Lycopene is a natural food colorant, ranging from yellow thru to red.
Lycopene from the neo-Latin lycopersicum, the tomato species, is a bright red carotene and carotenoid pigment and phytochemical found in tomatoes and other red fruits and vegetables, such as red carrots, watermelons, gac, and papayas, although not in strawberries, or cherries. Although lycopene is chemically a carotene, it has no vitamin A activity.Foods that are not red may also contain lycopene, such as asparagus or parsley
In plants, algae, and other photosynthetic organisms, lycopene is an important intermediate in the biosynthesis of many carotenoids, including beta carotene, which is responsible for yellow, orange, or red pigmentation, photosynthesis, and photo-protection. Like all carotenoids, lycopene is a polyunsaturated hydrocarbon, i.e. an unsubstituted alkene. Structurally, lycopene is a tetraterpene and assembled from eight isoprene units that are composed entirely of carbon and hydrogen. It is insoluble in water. Lycopene's eleven conjugated double bonds give its deep red color and its antioxidant activity. Owing to the strong color, lycopene is a useful food coloring (registered in the EU as E160d) and is generally approved for usage in the USA (specifically for meat), Australia and New Zealand (registered as 160d).