natural colours


The Guardian has reported that Nestlé has removed artificial ingredients from their entire confectionary range. However, I am not sure that this is worth making too much of a song and dance about. The public have a natural aversion to artificial colorants. Surely natural is better? Well, not necessarily.

The foliage and berries of the Deadly Nightshade plant are extremely toxic. Apple seeds can be fatal if eaten in large enough quantities (they contain a small amount of amygdalin). The kidney bean is poisonous if not correctly cooked. The puffafish – known in Japan as Fugu – can be lethally poisonous due to its tetrodotoxin; therefore, it must be carefully prepared to remove toxic parts and to avoid contaminating the meat. All of these things are natural.

Lots of natural products are not harmful. But there are many many artificial chemicals that are completely identical (chemically) to their naturally occurring and harmless equivalents. It’s strange that we are so keen to believe that natural is good and man-made is bad. Sometimes it is true, but sometimes it is not.

2 thoughts on “natural colours

  1. I kind of agree but must add that one reason to be slightly biased to the natural when it comes to food is that natural foods have a long track record to establish safety (or poison); man made chemicals perhaos have a little less provenance …

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