The following post was written and/or published as a collaboration between Benzinga’s in-house sponsored content team and a financial partner of Benzinga.

This year, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) completed a multiyear follow-up study on the synthetic food dyes that confirmed the findings from an early 2010 report published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), which found that widely used food dyes — including Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6, which account for 90% of synthetic dyes found in food — were potential carcinogens that may also cause hyperactivity and behavioral problems in children.

Already banned in Europe, the additional evidence from the OEHHA report might convince the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to rethink its regulations on the potentially harmful color additives. If so, this will have major food and beverage giants like PepsiCo Inc. , Coca Cola Co.  and Mars Inc. rethinking how to create the same vivid colors in their snacks and drinks with safer alternatives. One unexpected solution that these food and beverage giants might turn to is algae.

The Potential Impact of a Synthetic Food Dye Ban

A 2016 study estimates that as much as 90% of candies, drink mixes and fruit-flavored snacks contained these potentially harmful food dyes. That means a ban on synthetic dyes would mean a majority of the snacks, candies and drinks on American shelves today would need to be reformulated.

Even without a ban from the FDA, the OEHHA report, CSPI report and other studies done on food dye safety have led to a growing consumer awareness about the foods they eat. American consumers who have already begun showing a preference for foods that are free of artificial ingredients aren’t waiting for an FDA ban. At least half of consumers already avoid artificial colors and other ingredients. 

Algae is a Versatile Natural Food Dye Substitute

As that trend toward natural ingredients continues, the market for natural food colors is expected to reach $3.2 billion by 2027 and algae is poised to be a leader in that market. As surprising as it sounds, algae, with its many strains and rapid growth cycle, is one of the most versatile and viable options for replacing the synthetic dyes in packaged foods.

Algae strains range in hue from deep greens to bright yellows to vibrant reds, making it a prime candidate for processing into a range of safe, natural food dyes — including the more challenging-to-make colors like blue. Pond Technologies Inc. , for example, offers a range of blue, green, and red food colors, all derived from natural ingredients like spirulina through its Pond Naturals division. 

In addition to offering vibrant hues that are relatively easy to process into powders that can be added to a range of packaged foods and beverages, algae-based food colors like the ones from Pond Naturals boast impressive nutritional profiles. Spirulina and other algae are high in antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients that make them a popular health supplement as well as a natural food color. 

Swapping synthetics for algae presents an opportunity to not only make packaged food and beverages safer by removing harmful additives but also healthier by adding in nutrient-rich algae. This makes it a great solution to meet consumer demands that are not only shifting away from artificial ingredients but toward more health-conscious choices.

The preceding post was written and/or published as a collaboration between Benzinga’s in-house sponsored content team and a financial partner of Benzinga. Although the piece is not and should not be construed as editorial content, the sponsored content team works to ensure that any and all information contained within is true and accurate to the best of their knowledge and research. This content is for informational purposes only and not intended to be investing advice.