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A New Natural Blue for Food Coloring

Due to popular demand, many food manufacturers would like to offer their products with natural food coloring instead of synthetic colors. However, the pallete has so far been incomplete as there are no purely blue foods in nature. But a new ways to color foods blue has been found, strangely, in red cabbage.  

“Blue colors are really quite rare in nature – a lot of them are really reds and purples,” said Pamela Denish, a graduate student working with Professor Justin Siegel at the UC Davis Department of Chemistry and Innovation Institute for Food and Health.

Having the right blue color is also important for mixing other colors, such as green. If the blue isn’t right, it will produce muddy, brown colors when mixed, Siegel said.

Red cabbage extracts are widely used as a source of natural food colorings, especially reds and purples. These dyes are called anthocyanins. For about a decade, a team led by scientists at the Mars Advanced Research Institute and Mars Wrigley Science and Technology, in collaboration with the UC Davis Innovation Institute for Food and Health; The Ohio State University; Nagoya University, Japan; the University of Avignon, France; and SISSA University, Italy, have been working on isolating a blue anthocyanin from red cabbage. But the natural blue coloring is present only in tiny amounts.

The breakthrough came when researchers found an enzyme -among the billions available- that would turn the small amount of anthocyanin blue in red cabbage into a relatively large amount, making mass production possible. Read about the research at UC Davis. Just think, soon we'll be able to eat Superman ice cream and know that it's all natural! -via Real Clear Science

(Image credit: Amada44)


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