We may not think much about the color of our foods, but this characteristic is valuable to the industry. Color can communicate a food item’s safety, and it can create a safe environment for food production. Meeting color standards in the food industry is possible with the right tools, and at HunterLab, we have the right products for the job.
USDA Color Standards for Food
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) uses color to determine many foods’ safety and health, from produce to frozen french fries. The organization provides color charts for agricultural and food processing operations to compare their products to. A critical part of this process is having the proper equipment, like a spectrophotometer.
Food colors can communicate many characteristics of an item. They can show:
- Temperature variation
- Color content
- pH levels
Color-Coding and Prevention
A significant reason for cross-contamination in food processing is reusing tools for different jobs. For example, handling raw hamburger and using the same tool for post-cooking can cause a transfer of allergens.
With color-coded equipment, operations can make a clear distinction between tools and their processing areas. Color-coding is easy to communicate to workers with posters posted around the area. It’s also a simple form of communication for any language. This practice is excellent for preventing cross-contamination between:
In food processing, color-coding has grown increasingly common with new regulations from Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) standards and the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). These standards aim to reduce and eliminate a range of hazards in food processing, with color-coding being a significant safety measure.
It’s valuable to note that color blindness may affect a small percentage of workers. To avoid any confusion, stick to bold, drastically different colors to make differences clear to everyone.
Color Measurement for Conformity
Color measurement is valuable for conformity to color standards in the food industry. While the USDA may offer regulations for produce, color regulations exist in all types of foods. These color standards are essential for safety, and they’re valuable to consumers.
We all have expectations for how food should look, and we’re only willing to buy food products when they meet these ideas. Color can be a significant indicator to consumers that a food item is not worth buying. With lighting and angles affecting how a person perceives color, using the right measurement tools is critical for consistency and conformity in production.
One way to measure the exact color in a food item is with spectrophotometers. These devices determine a ratio of reflected light between an undefined color and a comparative sample. Rather than relying on the human eye, these machines offer a scientific approach to color measurement, allowing operations to make precise comparisons between their products and the available color-coding.
Meet Color Standards in the Food Industry
Mr. Philips has spent the last 30 years in product development and management, technical sales, marketing, and business development in several industries. Today, he is the global market development manager for HunterLab, focused on understanding customer needs, providing appropriate solutions and education, and helping to solve customer color challenges across these industries and cultures.