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Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety






Institute of Food Technologists

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Colored Cheddar cheeses are prepared by adding an aqueous annatto extract (norbixin) to cheese milk; however, a considerable proportion (∼20%) of such colorant is transferred to whey, which can limit the end use applications of whey products. Different geographical regions have adopted various strategies for handling whey derived from colored cheeses production. For example, in the United States, whey products are treated with oxidizing agents such as hydrogen peroxide and benzoyl peroxide to obtain white and colorless spray‐dried products; however, chemical bleaching of whey is prohibited in Europe and China. Fundamental studies have focused on understanding the interactions between colorants molecules and various components of cheese. In addition, the selective delivery of colorants to the cheese curd through approaches such as encapsulated norbixin and microcapsules of bixin or use of alternative colorants, including fat‐soluble/emulsified versions of annatto or beta‐carotene, has been studied. This review provides a critical analysis of pertinent scientific and patent literature pertaining to colorant delivery in cheese and various types of colorant products on the market for cheese manufacture, and also considers interactions between colorant molecules and cheese components; various strategies for elimination of color transfer to whey during cheese manufacture are also discussed.


This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Sharma P., Segat, A, Kelly, A.L. & Sheehan, J.J. (2020). Colorants in cheese manufacture: Production, Chemistry, Interactions and Regulation. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 1–23., which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.



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