Food Coloring Nanoparticles May Damage Human Gut

Chicken Intestine Food Nanoparticles

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Cross-section of hen gut with cells which may be affected by meals nanoparticles. Credit: Cornell University

According to a latest examine by scientists at Cornell and Binghamton University, metallic oxide nanoparticles that are continuously utilized as meals coloring and anti-caking brokers within the meals business, might trigger injury to sure sections of the human gut.

“We found that specific nanoparticles – titanium dioxide and silicon dioxide – ordinarily used in food may negatively affect intestinal functionality,” mentioned senior writer Elad Tako, affiliate professor of meals science at Cornell. “They have a negative effect on key digestive and absorptive proteins.”

In their examine, the analysis group administered human-equivalent doses of titanium dioxide and silicon dioxide within the Tako laboratory’s in vivo system, which supplies a well being response that intently resembles that of the human physique.

The scientists injected the nanoparticles into hen eggs. After the chickens hatched, the scientists detected modifications within the practical, morphological, and microbial biomarkers within the blood, the duodenum (higher gut), and the cecum (a pouch linked to the gut).

“We are consuming these nanoparticles on a daily basis,” mentioned Tako. “We don’t really know how much we consume; we don’t really know the long-term effects of this consumption. Here, we were able to demonstrate some of these effects, which is a key to understanding gastrointestinal health and development.”

Despite the discovering, the scientists are usually not but calling for an finish to using these nanoparticles.

“Based on the information, we suggest simply being aware,” Tako mentioned. “Science needs to conduct further investigations based on our findings. We are opening the door for discussion.”

Reference: “Food-Grade Metal Oxide Nanoparticles Exposure Alters Intestinal Microbial Populations, Brush Border Membrane Functionality and Morphology, In Vivo (Gallus gallus)” by Jacquelyn Cheng, Nikolai Kolba, Alba García-Rodríguez, Cláudia N. H. Marques, Gretchen J. Mahler and Elad Tako, 9 February 2023, Antioxidants.
DOI: 10.3390/antiox12020431

The examine was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Nanoparticles are utilized in meals colorings to enhance their stability, solubility, and coloration depth. Food coloring nanoparticles are made by lowering the dimensions of coloration particles to the nanoscale range, typically between 1 and 100 nanometers in diameter.

Nanoparticles have a larger surface area than larger particles, which makes them more reactive and improves their ability to disperse in food. This improved dispersion leads to better color stability, as the nanoparticles are less likely to clump together or settle out of the food product.

In addition to stability, nanoparticles can also enhance the intensity of food colors. This is because the smaller size of the particles allows them to interact more efficiently with light, resulting in more vivid and intense colors.

However, it is important to note that the use of nanoparticles in food has raised concerns about their potential health effects. As a result, regulatory bodies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) require that food manufacturers provide evidence that the nanoparticles they use are safe for consumption.