Annatto
Overview
 
Annatto, sometimes called roucou or achiote, is a derivative of the achiote
Achiote
Achiote is a shrub or small tree from the tropical region of the Americas. The name derives from the Nahuatl word for the shrub, achiotl. It is also known as Aploppas, and its original Tupi name urucu. It is cultivated there and in Southeast Asia, where it was introduced by the Spanish in the...

 trees of tropical regions of the Americas, used to produce a yellow to orange food coloring
Food coloring
Food coloring is a substance, liquid or powder, that is added to food or drink to change its color. Food coloring is used both in commercial food production and in domestic cooking...

 and also as a flavoring. Its scent is described as "slightly peppery with a hint of nutmeg
Nutmeg
The nutmeg tree is any of several species of trees in genus Myristica. The most important commercial species is Myristica fragrans, an evergreen tree indigenous to the Banda Islands in the Moluccas of Indonesia...

" and flavor as "slightly nutty, sweet and peppery".

Annatto coloring is produced from the reddish pericarp or pulp which surrounds the seed of the achiote (Bixa orellana L.).
Encyclopedia
Annatto, sometimes called roucou or achiote, is a derivative of the achiote
Achiote
Achiote is a shrub or small tree from the tropical region of the Americas. The name derives from the Nahuatl word for the shrub, achiotl. It is also known as Aploppas, and its original Tupi name urucu. It is cultivated there and in Southeast Asia, where it was introduced by the Spanish in the...

 trees of tropical regions of the Americas, used to produce a yellow to orange food coloring
Food coloring
Food coloring is a substance, liquid or powder, that is added to food or drink to change its color. Food coloring is used both in commercial food production and in domestic cooking...

 and also as a flavoring. Its scent is described as "slightly peppery with a hint of nutmeg
Nutmeg
The nutmeg tree is any of several species of trees in genus Myristica. The most important commercial species is Myristica fragrans, an evergreen tree indigenous to the Banda Islands in the Moluccas of Indonesia...

" and flavor as "slightly nutty, sweet and peppery".

Annatto coloring is produced from the reddish pericarp or pulp which surrounds the seed of the achiote (Bixa orellana L.). It is used as coloring in many cheese
Cheese
Cheese is a generic term for a diverse group of milk-based food products. Cheese is produced throughout the world in wide-ranging flavors, textures, and forms....

s (e.g., Cheddar
Cheddar cheese
Cheddar cheese is a relatively hard, yellow to off-white, and sometimes sharp-tasting cheese, produced in several countries around the world. It has its origins in the English village of Cheddar in Somerset....

, Gloucester cheese, Red Leicester, Gouda
Gouda (cheese)
Gouda is an orange cheese made from cow's milk. The cheese is named after the city of Gouda in the Netherlands, but its name is not protected. However, the European Commission has confirmed that "Gouda Holland" is to be protected...

 and Brie
Brie (cheese)
Brie is a soft cow's cheese named after Brie, the French region from which it originated . It is pale in color with a slight grayish tinge under a rind of white mold; very soft and savory with a hint of ammonia...

), margarine
Margarine
Margarine , as a generic term, can indicate any of a wide range of butter substitutes, typically composed of vegetable oils. In many parts of the world, the market share of margarine and spreads has overtaken that of butter...

, butter
Butter
Butter is a dairy product made by churning fresh or fermented cream or milk. It is generally used as a spread and a condiment, as well as in cooking applications, such as baking, sauce making, and pan frying...

, rice
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

, custard
Custard
Custard is a variety of culinary preparations based on a cooked mixture of milk or cream and egg yolk. Depending on how much egg or thickener is used, custard may vary in consistency from a thin pouring sauce , to a thick pastry cream used to fill éclairs. The most common custards are used as...

 powder, ice-cream, and smoked fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

. Although it is a natural food colorant, it has been linked to cases of food-related allergies.

Annatto is commonly found in Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

 and Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 cuisines as both a coloring agent and for flavoring. Central and South American natives use the seeds to make a body paint and lipstick
Lipstick
Lipstick is a cosmetic product containing pigments, oils, waxes, and emollients that applies color, texture, and protection to the lips. Many varieties of lipstick are known. As with most other types of makeup, lipstick is typically, but not exclusively, worn by women...

. For this reason, the achiote is sometimes called the "lipstick-tree". Achiote originated in South America and has spread in popularity to many parts of Asia. It is also grown in other tropical or subtropical regions of the world, including Central America, Africa and Asia. The heart-shaped fruit are brown or reddish brown at maturity, and are covered with short, stiff hairs. When fully mature, the fruit split open, exposing the numerous dark red seeds. While the fruit itself is not edible, the orange-red pulp that covers the seed is used to produce a yellow to orange commercial food coloring. Achiote dye is prepared by grinding seeds or simmering the seeds in water or oil.

History

Annatto's Latin designation (Bixa orellana L.) was named after the Spanish conquistador Francisco de Orellana
Francisco de Orellana
Francisco de Orellana was a Spanish explorer and conquistador. He completed the first known navigation of the length of the Amazon River, which was originally named for him...

 during his exploration of the Amazon River.

Annatto has long been used by indigenous Caribbean and South American cultures. It is believed to originate in Brazil. It was probably not initially used as a food additive, but for other reasons, such as body painting, repelling insects, and to ward off evil. The ancient Aztecs called it achiotl, and it was used for Mexican manuscript painting in the sixteenth century.

In the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 islands, both fruit and tree are popularly called achiote or bija. In India, annatto is known as "sindoor" and is considered auspicious for married women. Applying annatto to the forehead next to the hairline indicates that a woman is married.

Uses

Annatto has had many uses over the centuries in Latin America and the Caribbean, including as a food dye, body paint, treatment for heartburn and stomach distress, sunscreen and insect repellent. In the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, it is called atsuete and is used as food coloring in traditional dishes.

Many Latin American cuisines traditionally use annatto in recipes of Spanish origin that originally call for saffron
Saffron
Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the saffron crocus. Crocus is a genus in the family Iridaceae. Each saffron crocus grows to and bears up to four flowers, each with three vivid crimson stigmas, which are each the distal end of a carpel...

; for example, in arroz con pollo
Arroz con pollo
Arroz con pollo is a traditional dish of Latin America and the Caribbean, especially in Cuba, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Honduras and the Dominican Republic....

, to give the rice a yellow color. In Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

, annatto (called locally onoto) is used in the preparation of hallaca
Hallaca
In Venezuelan cuisine, an hallaca typically involves a mixture of beef, pork, chicken, capers, raisins, and olives wrapped in maize , bound with string within plantain leaves, and boiled or steamed afterwards. It is typically served during the Christmas holiday...

s
, perico
Perico (dish)
Perico is a Venezuelan and Colombian popular dish prepared with scrambled eggs, butter, sautéed diced onions, and tomatoes. It may also include ground peppers, annatto and occasionally hot peppers. It can be regarded as a tropical version of scrambled eggs, and can be eaten alone, with bread,...

, and other traditional dishes. In Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, both annatto (the product) and the tree (Bixa orellana L.) are called urucum, and the product itself may also be called colorau.

Food coloring

As a food additive
Food additive
Food additives are substances added to food to preserve flavor or enhance its taste and appearance.Some additives have been used for centuries; for example, preserving food by pickling , salting, as with bacon, preserving sweets or using sulfur dioxide as in some wines...

, annatto has the E number
E number
E numbers are number codes for food additives that have been assessed for use within the European Union . They are commonly found on food labels throughout the European Union. Safety assessment and approval are the responsibility of the European Food Safety Authority...

 E160b. The fat soluble part of the crude extract is called bixin
Bixin
Bixin is an apocarotenoid found in annatto, a natural food coloring obtained from the seeds of the achiote tree . Annatto seeds contain about 5% pigments, which consist of 70-80% bixin....

, the water soluble part is called norbixin, and both share the same E number as annatto. Annatto seed contains 4.5-5.5% pigments, which consists of 70-80% bixin.

In the United States, annatto extract is listed as a color additive "exempt from certification" and is informally considered to be a natural color. The yellowish orange color is produced by the chemical compounds bixin and norbixin, which are classified as carotenoids. However, unlike beta-carotene
Beta-carotene
β-Carotene is a strongly-coloured red-orange pigment abundant in plants and fruits. It is an organic compound and chemically is classified as a hydrocarbon and specifically as a terpenoid , reflecting its derivation from isoprene units...

, another well-known carotenoid, they do not have the correct chemical structures to be vitamin A
Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a vitamin that is needed by the retina of the eye in the form of a specific metabolite, the light-absorbing molecule retinal, that is necessary for both low-light and color vision...

 precursors. The more norbixin in an annatto color, the more yellow it is; a higher level of bixin gives it a more reddish shade. Unless an acid-proof version is used, it takes on a pink shade at low pH.

Cheddar cheese
Cheddar cheese
Cheddar cheese is a relatively hard, yellow to off-white, and sometimes sharp-tasting cheese, produced in several countries around the world. It has its origins in the English village of Cheddar in Somerset....

 is often colored, and even as early as 1860, the real reason for this was unclear: English
English people
The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

 cheesemaker Joseph Harding
Joseph Harding
Joseph Harding was responsible for the introduction of modern cheese making techniques and has been described as the "father of Cheddar cheese"...

 stated "to the cheese consumers of London who prefer an adulterated food to that which is pure I have to announce an improvement in the annatto with which they compel the cheesemakers to colour the cheese".

One theory is that cheeses regarded as superior in the 16th century had somewhat yellow color, possibly from high levels of carotene in the grass on which the dairy cattle fed. Producers of inferior cheese added annatto to the milk to make the cheese appear better quality, thus to command a higher price.

As a food color, annatto has less tendency to oxidize than beta carotene. Solvent-extracted annatto pigment present in edible oils at even low practical use levels, markedly delays polymerization of the oils during heating, and thus delays the development of the unhealthy by-products of polymerization. Whether this effect is also present in oil-extracted annatto pigment, where annatto seeds are held in edible oil at high temperature under near vacuum or inert gas, a process that may itself induce polymerization, is not known.
Annatto appears to be one of the richest natural sources of delta-tocotrienol
Tocotrienol
Tocotrienols are members of the vitamin E family. An essential nutrient for the body, vitamin E is made up of four tocopherols and four tocotrienols . The slight difference between tocotrienols and tocopherols lie in the unsaturated side chain having three double bonds in its farnesyl isoprenoid...

 (a type of vitamin E
Vitamin E
Vitamin E is used to refer to a group of fat-soluble compounds that include both tocopherols and tocotrienols. There are many different forms of vitamin E, of which γ-tocopherol is the most common in the North American diet. γ-Tocopherol can be found in corn oil, soybean oil, margarine and dressings...

), and contains gamma-tocotrienol as well (the ratio between gamma and delta forms is around 9-to-1), while not containing any tocopherol
Tocopherol
Tocopherols are a class of chemical compounds of which many have vitamin E activity. It is a series of organic compounds consisting of various methylated phenols...

s, which inhibit metabolism of tocotrienols in humans. Annatto is used as a source of these two types of tocotrienols for dietary supplements.

Precautions

According to WebMD
WebMD
WebMD is an American corporation which provides health information services. It was founded in 1996 by Jim Clark and Pavan Nigam as Healthscape, later Healtheon, and then acquired WebMD in 1999 to form Healtheon/WebMD...

, "annatto is safe for most people when used in food amounts. It is not known if annatto is safe for use as a medicine"; since it "might affect blood sugar
Blood sugar
The blood sugar concentration or blood glucose level is the amount of glucose present in the blood of a human or animal. Normally in mammals, the body maintains the blood glucose level at a reference range between about 3.6 and 5.8 mM , or 64.8 and 104.4 mg/dL...

 levels" its use should be stopped "at least two weeks" before scheduled surgery. WebMD also notes that "not enough is known about the use of annatto during pregnancy and breast-feeding" and it "can cause allergic reactions for those sensitive"

Annatto has been linked to cases of food-related allergies, but it is not one of the "Big Eight" allergens (cow's milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat) which are responsible for more than 90% of allergic food reactions. The Food and Drug Administration
Food and Drug Administration
The Food and Drug Administration is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, one of the United States federal executive departments...

, and experts at the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program (FARRP) at the University of Nebraska do not at present consider annatto to be a major food allergen.

Because it is a natural colorant, products containing annatto may be labeled as with "all natural" or "no artificial colors" on the principal display panel (PDP). "Natural" does not, of course, mean safe or non-toxic.

Natural food colors such as annatto extract have not been extensively investigated with respect to potential allergic properties. In one 1978 study among 61 consecutive patients suffering from chronic hives and/or angioedema, 56 patients were orally provoked by annatto extract during an elimination diet. A challenge was performed with a dose equivalent to the amount used in 25 gram (0.881849052627799 oz) of butter. Twenty six per cent of the patients reacted to this color four hours after intake, worse than amaranth
Amaranth
Amaranthus, collectively known as amaranth, is a cosmopolitan genus of herbs. Approximately 60 species are recognized, with inflorescences and foliage ranging from purple and red to gold...

 (9%) or synthetic dyes such as tartrazine
Tartrazine
Tartrazine is a synthetic lemon yellow azo dye used as a food coloring...

 (11%), Sunset Yellow FCF
Sunset Yellow FCF
Sunset Yellow FCF is a synthetic yellow azo dye, manufactured from aromatic hydrocarbons from petroleum. When added to foods, it is denoted by E Number E110...

 (17%), Food Red 17 (16%), Ponceau 4R
Ponceau 4R
Ponceau 4R , SX purple) is a synthetic colourant that may be used as a food colouring. It is denoted by E Number E124...

 (15%), erythrosine
Erythrosine
Erythrosine, also known as Red No. 3, is an organoiodine compound, specifically a derivative of fluorone. It is cherry-pink synthetic, primarily used for food coloring. It is the disodium salt of 2,4,5,7-tetraiodofluorescein...

 (12%) and Brilliant Blue FCF
Brilliant Blue FCF
Brilliant Blue FCF , also known under commercial names, is a colorant for foods and other substances to induce a color change. It is denoted by E number E133 and has a color index of 42090. It has the appearance of a reddish-blue powder...

 (14%).

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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