Bixa orellana L.
Annatto is a South and Central American herb producing small, dark, red seeds with a faint, flowery odor. The tree was introduced to the Philippines during its Spanish period. In 1540, the Spanish mercenary Gonzalo Pizarro left the plunder of the Incan Empire on rumors that groves of cinnamon trees were to be found in the Amazon basin. Almost his entire force perished in the jungle. He escaped by sailing down the Amazon, his primary plunder the annatto berries he found instead of cinnamon.
The intense red color of the seed is due to bixin in the seed coat. Annatto also contains very high concentrations of carotenoids, chemicals in the same class as alpha- and beta-carotene.
The seed (in cooking) or the seed coat (for commercial food production).
Ground seeds or seed coats.
Annatto has been used for centuries to keep food from spoiling.
Specific: No known precautions.
For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.