Color is important for identifying foods, judging their quality, and eliciting aesthetic pleasure in our encounters with them. Because color is usually the first food attribute to strike the senses, its significance in food marketing is obvious ("eating" with the eyes). Thus, all food providers (growers, grocers, homemakers, chefs, and industrial food processors) do their best to present a food with an attractive color. In certain instances, the original color of the food must be preserved, as is the case with most fruits and vegetables. In other instances, culinary art is required to create new, pleasing colors, as when turkey is roasted, bread is baked, or potato chips are fried. In still other instances, colors (colorants) are added to foods, as is done with many beverages and candies.

The coloring matter of foods is discussed under three headings: natural food colors, food browning, and food color additives.

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