Abstract

The carotenoids are very widespread natural pigments in plants and animals, so they provide the natural yellow, orange or red colours of many foods as well as being used extensively as non-toxic natural or nature-identical colorants. This chapter discusses all aspects of carotenoids, especially in relation to their presence or use in food. Topics discussed include the distribution of carotenoids, particularly in plants and animals, the natural functions and commercial uses and applications of carotenoids, the pathways and regulation of carotenoid biosynthesis, the absorption and transport of carotenoids and their metabolism, especially into vitamin A. Examples are given of the use of natural carotenoid extracts (e.g. annatto) and synthetic carotenoids (e.g. β-carotene, canthaxanthin, 8’-apo-β-caroten-8’-al) as colorants in food, feed, cosmetics and medical and health products. The properties and stability of carotenoids in the free form and in oil-based and water-dispersible formulations are assessed. All practical aspects of the handling, isolation and analysis of carotenoids are outlined, with emphasis on their purification and identification by chromatography, including HPLC, and their characterization and quantitative determination by physicochemical methods such as UV-visible and NMR spectroscopy and mass spectrometry. Future prospects for the production and use of carotenoids as colorants are assessed, and substantial advances in the biological and biotechnological production of carotenoids by microalgae or bacteria are predicted.

Keywords

Chlorophyll Diphosphate Squalene Kieselguhr Monoterpene 

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  • G. Britton

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