New sort of blue within cabbage could replace synthetic food dye

A long visit a natural option to artificial blue food colouring may attended to an end, with scientists discovering a blue pigment in cabbage that can get the job done.

Blue pigments are rarely within natural resources like plants and rocks, and therefore most blue products – including sweets, drinks, drug tablets, cosmetics and clothing – need to be made using synthetic blue dyes.

These synthetic dyes are usually made from petrochemicals, leading to concerns about their environmental impact and safety as food additives.

Scientists have spent decades looking for natural alternatives. Now, Pamela Denish at the University of California, Davis, and her colleagues have found a pigment in red cabbage like the artificial food colouring Brilliant Blue FCF or E133.

Read more: New blues: The quest to help make the world’s rarest colour

This natural blue pigment – a type of anthocyanin molecule – is only present in smaller amounts in red cabbage.

However, the researchers found they will make larger quantities by treating the dominant red-coloured anthocyanins within red cabbage with a exclusively designed enzyme that turned them blue.

The team used the brand new blue pigment to create blue ice cream, doughnut icing and sugar-coated lentils. The products maintained their blue colour while being placed for thirty days in ambient conditions.

Safety testing must be performed prior to the natural blue dye can be utilized in foods, but Kumi Yoshida at Nagoya University in Japan, one of the study authors, says it really is unlikely to have adverse health effects. “Red cabbage anthocyanins have an extended, long history inside our diets,” she says.

The key reason why the colour blue is so uncommon in nature is basically because complex molecular structures are required to absorb the right wavelengths of light to provide a blue appearance, says Rebecca Robbins at the Mars Wrigley Global Innovation Center in the US, who was also mixed up in study. “It takes a significant [few] specific molecular features,” she says.

Journal reference: Science Advances , DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abe7871

Read more: Mystery of ‘Maya blue’ dye tied to human sacrifice

More on these topics:

  • chemistry
  • food science

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