Double divisor-ratio spectra derivative (graphical method), classical least-squares and principal component. regression (two numerical methods) methods were developed for the spectrophotometric multicomponent analysis of soft drink powders and synthetic mixtures containing three colorants without any chemical separation. The graphical method is based on the use of derivative signals of the ratio spectra using double divisor. In this method, the linear determination ranges were 2-8 mug ml(-1) sunset yellow, 4-18 mug ml(-1) tartrazine and 2-8 mug ml(-1) allura red in 0.1 M HCl. In the numerical methods, a training set was randomly prepared by using 18 samples containing between 0 and 8 mug ml(-1) of sunset yellow, 0-18 mug ml(-1) of tartrazine and 0-8 mug ml(-1) of allura red. The chemometric calibrations were calculated by using the prepared training set and its absorbances at seven points (from 375.0 to 550.0 nm) in the spectral region 325-584 nm. The proposed methods were validated by using synthetic ternary mixtures and applied to the simultaneous determination of three colorants in soft drink powders. The obtained results were statistically compared with each other. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.