Powdered Turmeric (Curcuma longa) and Annatto (Bixa orellana) as Natural Food Colorants and Preservatives in Making Fish Tocino

Powdered Turmeric (Curcuma longa) and Annatto (Bixa orellana) as Natural Food Colorants and Preservatives in Making Fish Tocino

Published: 2024.03.13
Accepted: 2024.03.13
Asst Professor III
Research and Development Services, Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College, Philippines
Office of Research and Development Services Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College, Philippines
Production and Resource Generation Office
Assistant Professors
College of Agriculture Northern Iloilo State University, Batad, Iloilo, Philippines
Assistant Professors
College of Agriculture Northern Iloilo State University, Batad, Iloilo, Philippines


The study is conducted mainly to determine the level of acceptability of turmeric (Curcuma longa) and annatto (Bixa orellana) as natural food additives in making fish tocino based on consumer preferences. Laboratory technique is used as basis for technology transfer through entrepreneurial and techno-guide production. Weighted mean and the Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) were used for statistical analysis. The degree of acceptability as perceived by the consumers are determined using a sensory evaluation test. Fish tocino is generally acceptable when it is blended with turmeric and annatto powder as main ingredients. The color strength of turmeric and annatto powder were found to be very effective as natural colorant and preservative for fish tocino. The findings of the study make it a doable data for entrepreneurial venture for micro, small and medium enterprises development (MSMED) of R.A. 10644 or the “Go Negosyo Act” for sustainable livelihood program in the new normal.

Keywords:  Fish tocino, Turmeric, Annatto, natural additives, product development and packaging, sustainable livelihood, economic recovery project, new normal


The colors of the food define the perception of the particular food item or recipe. Many people identify good food and good flavor simply by the colors before it is even savored. Nowadays, the rich colors of food products such as strawberry, jams, blood rat juice or jellies of raspberry are great quality parameters to attract the buying public. When the colors match the consumer’s criteria, the desire for that specific food increases, intensifying the flavor for the actual food as well. Many colors added to food are derived from plant sources to enhance the visual part of the food. The use of natural colorant is increasing, especially in pharmaceuticals and the food industry due to the needs of consumers. However, though they are from natural resources, certain food laws and regulations in the Philippines established that all food coloring added to products have to be identified from their original source or plant and not identified as natural. To keep the nutritional value of some products and to develop and maintain its firmness in terms of the use of natural color, scientific research is needed. Thus, this research study, highlighted the importance of the two indigenous herbs:  turmeric known as dulao, or calawag and Annatto known as atsuete or achiote in local dialects of the Ilonggos as natural food colorant in the production of fish tocino. Fish tocino is a type of cured fish that is popular in the Philippines and other parts of Southeast Asia. It is made by marinating thin slices of fresh fish in a mixture of vinegar, sugar, and spices. The marinated fish is then sun-dried or dehydrated until it becomes firm and flavorful. Fish tocino has a sweet, savory flavor and a soft, tender texture. It is typically eaten as a breakfast food, along with rice and eggs. It is also a popular snack food and can be found at markets and roadside stands throughout the Philippines. In addition to its delicious flavor, fish tocino is also a good source of protein and other nutrients. It is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for brain and heart health, and it is also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including calcium and iron. There are many ways to prepare fish tocino. It can be eaten on its own as a snack, or it can be used as an ingredient in dishes such as stir-fries and soups. It can also be grilled or fried, depending on your preference. Fish tocino is a tasty and nutritious food that is enjoyed by many people in the Philippines and beyond. Whether you are looking for a breakfast food, a snack, or an ingredient for a meal, fish tocino is a delicious choice (https://jraseafood.com).Turmeric acted as a protector against insect pests, fungi and other pathogens and served as a longer term preserver containing a taste increasing nutrient of fish. Turmeric showed a prime level of effectiveness possessing a longer shelf-life, higher sensory scores, shorter curing period, better quality and more favorable nutrient properties for preservation than any other type of salt curing methods. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a member of the ginger family. It is a major ingredient in curry powder that provides flavor and strongly yellow pigments. The rhizomes of turmeric are the sources of spice and used to color a range of food products. The Southeast Asia is the center of turmeric and India is known for being its largest exporter. Turmeric is the holistic medicine known as “Ayurveda.”  This is used as medicine in different illnesses including cancer. It consists of three main components which are curcumin, dimethoxy curcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin that are responsible for its bright yellow color (Newman and Cragg, 2007). Turmeric is one of the spices most widely used as a preservative and as a color, antiseptic, anticancer medicine, wound healing, and antibacterial agent in biological systems worldwide. The golden spice supports immune health, helps relieve pain, and can aid in digestion, among other things.

In food product preservation, study shows that the presence of turmeric in frozen foods delayed the formation of bacterial growth, extended its shelf life without changing its appearance, flavor and texture. This confirmed the bio-preservative effect of turmeric against spoilage bacteria and its potential in the fish-processing industries (Arulkumar, et al., 2017).

Annatto on the other hand, is an orange-red condiment and food coloring derived from the seeds of achiote tree (Bixa orellana). It can be in the forms of powder, paste, and oil. Annatto has been used as a natural colorant in many traditional foods found in Asia. It is used in many products such as processed meats, dried fish, beverages, and packed foods. It is also used as dye, medicine, and ingredients. Annatto is a natural colorant therefore; it can be included as an ingredient in foods labelled as “all-natural.” It has been used as a natural colorant in many traditional foods found in Asia. Annatto ranks second place in economic importance worldwide among all natural colorants and its extract shows antimicrobial and antioxidant properties (Cuong and Chin, 2016). Annatto has been linked to several potential health benefits, such as healthy eyes, better heart health, and reduced inflammation. It may also have antioxidant, anticancer, and antimicrobial properties.

The color strength of turmeric and annatto powder were found to be very effective natural colorants in the production and in preservation of fish tocino. The combined mixtures of powdered Turmeric and Annatto as natural food colorant added to the process of producing of Sillago (locally known as Asuhos). Fish Tocino gained the highest level of acceptance to the consumers. Its natural colorants were used for replacing synthetic colors because artificial coloring include many chemicals that can produce negative impact to consumers’ health (Abdeldaiem, 2014; and Dey & Nagababu,2022). Further, by using natural colorant found in these herbs, consumers’ health related problems and its risks caused by artificial colors in food products can be reduced.

This innovative technology will provide wider opportunity for sustainable livelihood program for farmers and fisherfolks through the enhancement of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises Development (MSMED) in consonance to the mandate of our government stipulated in R. A. 10644 otherwise known as the “Go Negosyo Act of 2014”.

The project is funded by the Office of Research and Development Services of the Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College Main Campus.  The full implementation of the said project is under the full responsibility of the Office of Research and Development Services of Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College (NIPSC), Batad Campus as the implementing institution. The project generally aimed to produce fish tocino blended with turmeric and annatto powder for commercialization that could help augment the income of our farmers and fisherfolks who are greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The innovative value-added product is envisioned to help strengthen the livelihood program of the target recipients as part of the College’ community economic recovery project under the new normal.

Objectives of the study

This technology research attempted to produce fish tocino blended with turmeric and annatto powder for commercialization. The utilization of turmeric and annatto powder in fish tocino making is new to the buying public. These indigenous herbs are abundantly grown and are found to be readily available in the local market in an affordable price. Specifically, it aimed to:                                

  1. Produce fish tocino blended with turmeric and annatto powder for product development and packaging;
  2. Determine product cost and acceptability;
  3. Find out if there is a significant difference among treatment used in all of its attributes; and
  4. Conduct capacity building through RDE project and activities through effective transfer of technology for sustainable livelihood program in the Municipality.

RDE framework design

The framework in product development and packaging of Fish Tocino blended with powdered turmeric and atsuete powder has four basic stages these are: (1) Input (production of fish tocino blended with turmeric and annatto powder as natural food colorant and preservatives); (2) Process (sensory evaluation, product testing and costing); (3) Output (product development and packaging; Technology Transfer and Commercialization through RDE Projects/Activities); and (4) Consumers Feedbacks (Monitoring and Evaluation).



The materials used in this study were: Fish fillet, powdered turmeric and annatto, seasoning (iodized salt, sugar, black pepper), minced garlic, pineapple syrup, mixing bowl, tablespoon, teaspoon, measuring cups, oven, frying pan, oil, weighing scale and plastic wrapper.


This study uses experimental method employing the laboratory technique and procedures. Fresh Sillago fish was taken directly from the fishermen at Estancia Fishing Port and was cleaned and filleted while powdered turmeric and annatto are bought directly from the local market. All experimental procedures were held constant except for the main ingredients used. Three replications were made in order to come up with the most reliable evaluation of the respondents to determine the level of acceptability of fish tocino blended with turmeric and annatto as natural food additives in terms of color, aroma, taste, sweetness, and texture (mouth-feel). Quantitative Data were gathered using a Sensory Evaluation Card administered to 50 potential tocino consumers who served as the respondents of the study using a purposive sampling technique.

The following were the procedures in preparing the different treatment formulations: Cleaning. The fish were washed and cleaned removing the scales and internal organs with clean running water. Filleting. The cleaned fish were filleted using sharp knife. The fillets were skinned and washed again. Draining. The fillets were drained to remove excess water. Weighing/Measuring. The fish were weighed and measured to determine the proportion of the blended amount of powdered turmeric and annatto for each of the treatments used. All other ingredients such as sugar, salts, black pepper, minced garlic and pineapple juice were measured before mixing to the filleted fish. No artificial preservatives were added to prolong the shelf-life of the product. The treatments were packed in a cellophane bag and were placed in a clean storage box and cured in the refrigerator for two days under chilling condition. Pre-testing. After the curing stage, the treatments for all recipes were fried in deep hot cooking oil, and ready for sensory evaluation. Product labeling and packaging. The treatment that passed the highest sensory evaluation test among the tocino consumers were carefully packed, labeled for future mass production, IPR registration, technology transfer and commercialization through RDE Projects/Activities.

Data gathering procedure

Five- Point Sensory Rating Scale was used by the researchers to determine the level of acceptability of fish tocino using the natural food additives found in turmeric and annatto powder administered to 30 fish tocino consumers purposively chosen as respondents of the study.

The score cards were personally administered to the chosen respondents by the researchers making sure that the instructions were made clearly. The respondents wrote the number (1-5) corresponding to the appropriate rating scale to express their feelings of how much they liked or disliked the product. Data gathered were statistically tallied and interpreted.

The level of acceptability of fish tocino is ranked and verbally interpreted as follows:

                              Scoring                               Verbal interpretation

                                  5                                                      Like a lot

                                  4                                                      Like a little

                                  3                                                      Neither like nor dislike

                                  2                                                     Dislike a little                                                                

                                  1                                                    Dislike a lot

For product evaluation purposes of the new processing technique in making fish tocino, the researchers have prepared a total of 3 kilograms of Sillago fish fillets to serve as representative material in making three varied products of fish tocino. The ratio and proportion of the fish fillets and natural food additives were as follows:

Treatment A: 3 kg Sillago filleted fish + ¼ cup turmeric powder

                      + ¼ cup annatto powder + spices and seasonings

Treatment B: 3 kg Sillago filleted fish + ¼ cup turmeric powder

                      + ½ cup annatto powder +spices and seasonings

Treatment C: 3 kg Sillago filleted fish + ¼ cup turmeric powder

                      + ¼ cup annatto powder + Siling labuyo + spices and seasonings

The finished products were chilled for 2-3 days before frying for product evaluation. The most preferred treatment will be recommended for product packaging and labeling for mass production, Intellectual Property technology registration and technology transfer in RDE projects and activities.

In order to arrive in a sound conclusion, analysis of variance was used to determine the significant differences among the treatments means. To come up with a more reliable result on the acceptability of the most preferred sample, the finished products were subjected to the evaluation of the 10 experts in tocino making for descriptive analysis and a preference test were given to 50 consumer evaluators in three replications. The data were subjected to statistical analysis for comparison and interpretation using Kruskall-Wallis H Test to test the level of significance for each treatment.

Shelf-life determination was conducted using Cellophane as packaging material and stored under ambient, chilled and frozen conditions. Cost and return analysis were also conducted to determine the economic value should this product be utilized for small scale entrepreneurs in the community. Product costing of the fish tocino was computed to determine its affordability and compare the cost with the prices of products in the market.


Tables 1 and 2 show the profile of respondents who participated in the product testing. There were more female respondents (60.00%) compared to male (40.00%) with age ranging from 21 to 46 years old and above. Majority or 30% of the respondents belong to the 41-45 age group.

Consumers’ acceptance of fish tocino blended with varying amounts of turmeric and annatto powder

Table 3 presents the mean results for the 3 treatments as outcomes of the evaluation made by the 50 potential tocino consumers.  Treatment A gained the highest acceptance from the consumers and is ranked 1 for their preference, verbally interpreted as “like a lot.” It is implied that the product fully met the 100% level of acceptance to the consumers. Treatment B and C were ranked 2 for the consumers choice verbally interpreted as “Like a little,” respectively.

Results implied that, Treatment A containing a mixture of 3 kg Sillago filleted fish + ¼ cup turmeric powder + ¼ cup annatto powder + spices and seasonings is the most preferred recipe of the consumers in terms of color, aroma, sweetness, taste and mixture (mouth-feel) for the fish tocino product. The color strength of turmeric and annatto powder as natural colorants and preservatives were found to have positive acceptance in the production and in preservation of fish tocino. The combined mixtures of powdered turmeric and annatto as natural food colorant added to the process of producing of Sillago (locally known as Asuhos) Fish Tocino gained the highest level of acceptance to the consumers. Its natural colorants can be used to replace synthetic colors because artificial coloring include chemicals that can produce negative impact to consumers’ health. 

Using Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) at the 0.05 level of significance presented in Table 4, as to the color, aroma, sweetness, taste and texture (mouth-feel) for the three treatments used, data revealed that all these attributes showed highly significant to the level of acceptance of the evaluators. This implied that the fish tocino product blended with turmeric and atsuete powder as natural colorant and preservative gained positive acceptance to the buying market. This further suggest that product development and proper packaging of this value-added product are highly recommended for livelihood development as part of the RDE projects and initiatives for micro, small and medium enterprises in the municipality to help alleviate the income of farmers and fisherfolks for the economic recovery program to combat COVID-19 financial downfall.

The most preferred treatment of the fish tocino recipes were subjected to shelf-life evaluation packed with plastic container stored under ambient, chilled and frozen conditions. It was evaluated using sensory test every day to determine the growth of molds, change of color and odor. After thorough observation using the sense of sight, smell and taste, it was found that the most preferred treatment of fish tocino which is Treatment 1 that is packed in a plastic container stored under frozen condition would last for 40 days and will still be in good condition (Table 5).

Product costing

Based on the cost of production with additional mark-up price the fish tocino cured with turmeric and annatto powder sold at Php500.00 (USD8.95) per kilogram or Php125.00 (USD2.24)per 250 g pack, the most affordable price in the locality. The net income was Php 2,250.00 (USD40.26) with a Returned on Investment (ROI) of Php 59.00 (USD1.06) /kg. This means that business venture for this commodity can earn 57.25% per peso invested. The detailed of product costing is presented in Table 6.

The higher the volume of production per day (more than 80 kilos), the lower the production cost, thus increasing the markup value to more than 50%. If price per kilogram is lower compared with the existing market price, increase the markup value to 50% or more.

Consumers’ feedback

To improve the product, the general comments of the panelists and photos taken during the conduct of the product “free-taste” are presented below. The feedbacks were consolidated and recorded to further enhance the product for future commercialization.

Research, Development and Extension (RDE) activity and technology transfer

In the ambit of the project's objectives in developing micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the Municipality of Batad in the northern part of Iloilo province, NISU Batad Campus through the joint efforts of the Office of Research and Extension services builds on the farmers and fisherfolks beneficiaries', capacity in adapting technologies to improve their livelihood and gradually recover from the economic downfall brought about by COVID-19 pandemic through  Research, Development and Extension (RDE) activity and technology transfer. The activity highlighted the interrelation of the natural environment, biological, technical, economic, social, cultural, and political aspects. Technology is expected to play a critical role in the adaptation and resilience-building for the target recipients. This is also to ensure the sustainability of the project being developed and as part of the College project and initiative to combat the economic downfall among the marginalized people in the community brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Offices of Research, Development and Extension Services conducted a 2-day activity participated in by selected farmers and fisherfolks from the different barangays within the Municipality of Batad, Iloilo, Philippines for product demonstration and transfer of technology. This activity ignited the spirit of the participants to venture into this new business enterprise as a source of livelihood and as part of the healthy and nutritious food from these locally grown herbs and abundant fish caught within the coastal areas of the Municipality. 


Based on the findings of the study, the following conclusion and recommendation were drawn:

Based on the results of the sensory evaluation and product test, it is concluded that the fish tocino blended with turmeric and annatto powder is a viable product. The product provides consumers with an appealing and uniquely fish tocino with a pleasing taste. The recipe is easy to prepare and purchase. The general quality is acceptable and satisfies the needs of the intended consumers.

The result of the study proved that the developed fish tocino blended with turmeric and annatto powder was generally satisfying and acceptable for the intended clients. Hence, it is recommended that the product be produced and included in menus offered at NISU Batad Canteen and have the recipe distributed for entrepreneurial venture for the enhancement of micro, small and medium entrepreneur development (MSMED). This is in adherence to the provision RA 10644, or the "Go Negosyo Act" of 2014, that facilitate local job creation, production and trade in the country in order to foster national development, promote inclusive growth, and reduce poverty. Local Ordinances must be enhanced to protect the status of Silago Fish during their spawning season to maintain its abundance in the territorial coast of the Municipality of Batad and the entire Visayan Sea. Likewise, crop cultivation of turmeric and annatto must be further developed by the College of Agriculture and be introduced to the local communities for sustainability.  

Furthermore, it is recommended that computation and drafting of nutrition labeling be done to ensure its nutritional content. It is also suggested that other spices such as pepper be included as added flavor for consumers’ preferences and to further enhance its taste as additional flavor to be produced for mass production.


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