3-Deoxyanthocyanins as natural, stable, bioactive food colorants: overcoming barriers to commercial application
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Color is a primary determinant of food quality perception by consumers; for this reason, the vast majority of manufactured foods contain added colors, especially synthetic dyes. Consumer demand for clean label, natural colors, and healthy ingredients has expanded rapidly. Plant-derived pigments are widely used as water-soluble colorants in food and beverages, but tend to have poor stability to food processing and handling conditions, and are relatively expensive to process. Specific sorghums accumulate high levels of unique and highly stable color compounds, with major potential as food colorants, and bioactive food additives. The pigments are located in sorghum bran, and other waste tissue that are easy to sustainably concentrate and store. Unfortunately, the sorghum pigment compounds are difficult to extract, and also readily precipitate in water-based systems that characterize most beverage applications, for instance, limiting commercial exploitation.This application aims to develop technologies that significantly enhance extraction efficiency of sorghum pigment compounds and prevent their aggregation in water-based systems. We will, i) use microwave-solvent technology to facilitate release of sorghum pigment compounds and beneficial phenolics from plant tissue, and ii) develop technologies that use selected natural polysaccharides to protect the pigment compounds from precipitating under conditions relevant to food processing and handling. The proposed work will lead to technologies that can be applied to commercially improve food quality, and potential bioactive properties, using the uniquely functional natural sorghum pigments.