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Food Safety Focus (117th Issue, April 2016) – Food Incident Highlight

The True Colour of Egg Yolk

Recent news about some Australian egg producers using carotenoid containing additives in feed for laying hens to brighten yolk colour has puzzled many people over the safety and the true colour of those yolks.

Carotenoids are pigments formed by plants and are naturally present in a wide range of our foods. These include fruits and vegetables (e.g. capsicum, carrot, papaya, spinach, tomato and watermelon) as well as seafoods (e.g. shrimp and salmon). These pigments can be naturally present in poultry eggs. The presence of carotenoids in the diet of the laying poultry may vary their egg yolk colours ranging from pale yellow to reddish orange. Under the Colouring Matter in Food Regulations (Cap 132H), pigments natural to edible fruits or vegetables or their pure colouring principles, whether isolated from such natural colours or produced synthetically, are permitted.