A natural food colorant called phycocyanin provides a fun, vivid blue in soft drinks, but it is unstable on grocery shelves. Cornell’s synchrotron is helping to steady it.
In food products, the natural blues tend to be moody.
A fun food colorant with a scientific name – phycocyanin – provides a vivid blue pigment that food companies crave, but it can be unstable when placed in soft drinks and sport beverages, and then lose its hues under fluorescent light on grocery shelves.
With the help of physics and the bright X-ray beams from Cornell’s synchrotron, Cornell food scientists have found the recipe for phycocyanin’s unique behavior and they now have a chance to stabilize it, according to new research published Nov. 12 in the American Chemical Society’s journal BioMacromolecules.
“Phycocyanin has a vibrant blue color,” said Alireza Abbaspourrad, the Youngkeun Joh Assistant Professor of Food Chemistry and Ingredient Technology in the Department of Food Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “However, if you want to put phycocyanin into acidified beverages, the blue color fades quickly due to thermal treatment.”
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Image: A natural food colorant called phycocyanin provides a fun, vivid blue in soft drinks, but it is unstable on grocery shelves. Cornell’s synchrotron is helping to steady it.
Credit: CHESS Cornell Chronicle High Energy