Vegetable charcoal is an insoluble black food dye used in confectionery, bakery and ice cream.
Vegetable coal (also called "vegetable black") is a form of finely ground coal that is formed naturally at great depths. Then this coal is amenable to thorough cleaning and grinding.
There is also a method of carbonization, during which plant materials are carbonized, this method refers to the artificial and, more recently, is increasingly used. Raw materials include peat, walnut shells, wood and cellulose residues.
Vegetable coal (E153) consists mainly of finely ground coal, whose atomic weight is 12.01 g / mol. It is a black powder that has no taste or smell. It is not soluble in water and organic solvents. This dye is very resistant to heat, light and changes in the pH range.
In addition to the food industry, vegetable coal is used in the purification of metals, water and wastewater, in the manufacture of air filters and in emergency medical care for the treatment of poisoning and oral overdose with pharmaceutical preparations.
Use in the food industry
Currently, plant charcoal is a food dye permitted in the EU in all foods with a few exceptions, in which the use of any food dyes is specifically prohibited. E153 is rarely used alone for coloring food, because it provides an intense black color that is only suitable for certain varieties of confectionery, ice or desserts. However, it can be used as a shading agent with other colors, providing increased color intensity.
It is used for dyeing some beverages and decorating confectionery products in the food industry.
It is often used in the manufacture of certain varieties of cheese, in an amount that corresponds to the technology of their production, for cleaning, as well as coloring their shells.
Vegetable charcoal is used as a clarifying, filtering material, and is also used in the manufacture of vodka, as a sorbent and flocculant, for processing sugar solutions, fruit juices, and other products. It is also used in the manufacture of various products, such as the food industry, and cosmetic, etc.
For example, it is used in the production of:
- jams, juices, jelly candies;
- eye makeup;
- toilet soap;
- in the manufacture of certain drugs in the pharmaceutical industry.
The activated form of plant carbon has adsorption properties, and the activation stage helps to remove possible impurities. Activation of plant coal is carried out using a physical process (thermal activation with steam).
In addition to its use as a dye, vegetable charcoal is also recommended for the treatment of intestinal disorders, flatulence and abdominal distention due to its adsorption properties, or as an antidote to oral medications for overdose.
Vegetable coal is "activated" when producers heat the total coal with gas, which increases its surface area and causes the development of "pore".
When applied orally, these pores provide the ability of plant carbon to absorb toxins and other bad substances on its surface and remove them from the body.
This useful property, along with the alleged ability to eliminate flatulence and teeth whitening, is the reason that this substance has found wide application in medicine. But it must be remembered that the use of vegetable coal as a medicine is possible only after consulting a doctor, if only because it can interact badly with other medicines, preventing them from working normally.
Food supplement safety
Vegetable charcoal is not absorbed in the intestines of humans. It does not cause concern in relation to its genotoxicity and carcinogenicity, provided that it contains less than 1.0 µg / kg of carcinogenic PAHs. Also the history of safe use in medicine for a very long time predisposes to its use.
European and Canadian authorities approve its use as a color additive.
It is believed that this food additive has a carcinogenic effect, because it can contain polycyclic aromatic carbons in impurities. But, it was found that they are contained in such small quantities that they can not have any effect on the human body.
Although vegetable charcoal can be used as a food additive (according to EU Regulation No. 1333/2008), there is a general prohibition on any type of dye in bread and pizza. Thus, pastries containing vegetable carbon cannot be sold under the name "bread" and must be labeled under the name "thin pastries".
E153 is known as a safe food supplement. There is no evidence that its use will cause any harm to special groups, including newborns, children, pregnant women and other applicable vulnerable groups. It is quite safe to use vegetable charcoal in food and beverages as a food additive without any side effects. There may be some side effects in large doses.