August 11, 2009
Nano beta-carotene -- natural food color?
Here are the parts I understand: beta-carotene is the naturally occurring substance that makes carrots orange. It can be used to color foods (and if you eat really a lot of carrots, you actually turn a little orange).
Nanotechnology is the use of nano-particles, particles that are so small that the substance has different chemical properties than its conventional version.
Nanotechnology is pretty new, and the possibilities are almost endless. So I raised my eyebrows when I read this blurb on beveragedaily.com :
Nanostructures composed of alginic acid cross-linked by calcium ions could entrap beta-carotene, a fat-soluble compound, which could then be used to naturally colour water-based foods, researchers from Louisiana State University Agricultural Center and the University of Arkansas report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
And here are the details on the article: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Published online ahead of print, ASAP Article, doi:10.1021/jf900563a
"Ca2+ Cross-Linked Alginic Acid Nanoparticles for Solubilization of Lipophilic Natural Colorants." Authors: C.E. Astete, C.M. Sabliov, F. Watanabe, A. Biris
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Beta carotene E160e, is used on a small scale. I have a box of Cheezels here, "no artificial colours", the orange cheese color is beta carotene. It is expensive to use carotenoids natural colors, but a process like this one might make it much less expensive, and they would be used on a much larger scale. I sell them as consumer food colors because I think a healthy alternative to potentially unhealthy artificial colors is a good idea. They are very safe, and quite potent food colors.
Posted by: Steven | Aug 14, 2009 9:49:08 PM
It just seems slightly misleading to me to say "natural color" when nanotechnology is involved. The color may be natural, but a nano-produced substance added to the food is probably not quite what consumers contemplate when they see the term.
I'm not an expert on nanotechnology, but using it in food worries me a little because I don't think we really know how it will affect us yet.
Cheezels, huh? We don't have them here. Does the cheese really stay moist without compromising the crunchiness?
Posted by: Donna M. Byrne | Aug 15, 2009 5:53:33 AM
No. Cheezels are similar to cheetos, crunchy cheese snacks. They don't have the texture anything like cheese. The cheese flavour comes from powdered cheese. The cheese colour comes from beta-carotene, instead of using something like Sunset Yellow or Tartrazine. It allows the manufacturer to say it has no artificial colours in it. To me, it is a better way to make a cheddar cheese colour without using artificial colour, and a step in the right direction.
I agree that everytime you change things there is always some worry, but the less you change things the better in my opinion. Beta-carotene, even if it is 'nano' it is still preferable to colours made from coal tar or oil. It is another alternative for manufacturers and I am glad some of them are turning to these.
Besides if you don't want to use the 'nano' you can use the regular oil based or mix it with an emulsifier to make it water soluble.
Posted by: steven pace | Dec 1, 2009 3:43:47 AM