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An orange yellow colour derived from the root of the curcuma (turmeric) plant.

Apart from its culinary uses, turmeric is used as a preservative, colorant and flavouring agent in many food products including baked foods, pickles and meat products.

The yellow-flowered turmeric plant is a member of the ginger family. It is grown in Indonesia, China, India and other parts of the tropics, where the dried aromatic root-like stem is ground to form a powder. It contains yellow-coloured curcumin, the key active component, and also an orange-coloured volatile oil. The herb has been shown to have a positive effect on a variety of medical conditions.

Turmeric is an essential flavouring spice of Indian and other cuisine. The Turmeric rhizome provides the typical yellow colour of many curry dishes and helps to make the food more digestible.

Turmeric can be artificially produced and has found application in canned beverages, baked products, fish fingers, dairy products, ice cream, yoghurts, yellow cakes, biscuits, popcorn-colour, sweets, cake icings, cereals, sauces, gelatines, direct compression tablets, etc. In combination with Annatto (E160b) it has been used to colour cheeses, dry mixes, salad dressings, winter butter and margarine.

It is also used in product systems that are packaged to protect them from sunlight. The oleoresin is used for oil-containing products. The curcumin / polysorbate solution or curcumin powder dissolved in alcohol is used for water containing products. Over-colouring, such as in pickles, relishes and mustard, is sometimes used to compensate for fading.

Investigations into the low incidence of colo-rectal cancer amongst ethnic groups with a large intake of curries compared with the indigenous population have discovered that some active ingredients of Turmeric appear to have anti-cancer properties. Second stage trials of a Turmeric-based drug to treat cancer are currently underway.

Possible side effects
Turmeric appears to be very safe in recommended doses. However, there is some evidence to suggest that – because turmeric enhances the release of bile in the liver, high doses should not be taken by people with gallstones, obstructive jaundice, acute bilious colic or toxic liver disorders