According to Food Manufacturing, "Measuring light emission from fluorescent particles is a standard scientific technique to probe a material's properties without destroying it. But could the technique work on food? Many fluorescent dyes are toxic or expensive, making them unfit for human consumption and ruling them out for use as food quality probes. The Rutgers researchers wondered if the edible colors already added to many food products could act as fluorescent probes."
"Fluorescent probes have been used in many applications, but the idea of using food colors for this purpose is new," said Sarah Waxman, an undergraduate student who is working on a research project to study the fluorescent properties of food dyes in the lab of Rutgers food scientist Richard Ludescher.
The research team tested the fluorescent properties of five edible food colors that are routinely added to food or pharmaceuticals: Allura Red, Sunset Yellow, Brilliant Blue, Fast Green and Tartrazine, a yellow-colored dye.
For the full story: http://www.foodmanufacturing.com/news/2015/02/dyes-act-probes-aid-food-quality