What is ANNATTO?

What is ANNATTO?

Is made from achiote tree. It is mostly used to color cheeses orange (like cheddar). In its pure form it tastes lightly sweet and peppery. Some people say that it tastes similar to nutmeg.  Annatto is one of the top 10 food allergens in America.

Where does ANNATTO come from?

It comes from the seed pods of the achiote tree. Inside the spiney seed pods are seeds and a redish orange pulp.

How is ANNATTO made?

Achiote seed pods are collected crushed (to open) and then the water is added to the mixture, the mash is then filtered to remove the seeds and husk buts and any other detris that may be in the solution. Sometimes the solution is dehydrated into a pouder before being used in cheeses and other common dairy products.

Is ANNATTO healty for me?

Annatto unfortunatly is one of the top 10 food allergens accroding to the FDA. Because it is a natural occurring food dye products with annatto can still be marketed as 100% natural.

More information about ANNATTO.

Cheddar cheese is often colored, and even as early as 1860, the real reason for this was unclear: English cheesemaker Joseph Harding stated "to the cheese consumers of London who prefer an adulterated food to that which is pure I have to announce an improvement in the annatto with which they compel the cheesemakers to colour the cheese".

One theory is that cheeses regarded as superior in the 16th century had somewhat yellow color, possibly from high levels of carotene in the grass on which the dairy cattle fed. Producers of inferior cheese added annatto to the milk to make the cheese appear better quality, thus to command a higher price.

As a food color, annatto has less tendency to oxidize than beta carotene. Solvent-extracted annatto pigment present in edible oils at even low practical use levels, markedly delays polymerization of the oils during heating, and thus delays the development of the unhealthy by-products of polymerization.[citation needed] Whether this effect is also present in oil-extracted annatto pigment, where annatto seeds are held in edible oil at high temperature under near vacuum or inert gas, a process that may itself induce polymerization, is not known.

Annatto is not one of the "Big Eight" allergens (cow's milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat) which are responsible for >90% of allergic food reactions. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and experts at the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program (FARRP) at the University of Nebraska do not at present consider annatto to be a major food allergen.



  1. Concerned
    Not sure who proofs this stuff. One section says it is a major allergen and then a few paragraphs later says its not...but both are said to be FDA claims!!

  2. Kathy Jordan-Brenner
    It is not one of the top 8 food allergens (cows milk, wheat, eggs, peanuts (a legume, not a nut), tree nuts,fish, shellfish, and soy) There have not been enough studies of annatto performed, and annatto is not considered to be a nut, therefore food manufacturers are not required to list a warning on food labels....only to list it in the ingredient list. The person who wrote this article obviously read through articles very quickly ...could have saved s/he trouble and had them go to http://www.foodallergy.org/allergens/tree-nut-allergy? ...common sense people..don\'t report news without facts, it scares people. If you are allergic to nuts, you should probably avoid annatto (if you have had a reaction from it) or altogether if you want to be safe. Either way more studies need to be performed. I am currently writing a paper on synthetic and naturally derived food dyes.

  3. Angela
    I break out everytime I eat a product with this in it. Unfortunately its in everything now. I dont know what I am going to do. It\'s making me so sick. I am usually allergic to red 40, and berries, but at least they are not in everything like this is....