Food colouring may “damage” the human gut
Nanoparticles in food colouring and anti-caking agents may “damage parts of the human intestine”, according to new research.
Metal oxide nanoparticles that are commonly used as food colouring and anti-caking agents within the commercial ingredients industry may “damage parts of the human intestine”, according to research.
Cornell and Binghamton University scientists found that titanium dioxide and silicon dioxide (two nanoparticles that are ordinarily used in food colouring) “may negatively affect intestinal functionality”.
“They have a negative effect on key digestive and absorptive proteins,” commented Senior Author Elad Tako, Associate Professor of Food Science at Cornell.
To carry out the research, the scientists used human-relevant doses of titanium dioxide and silicon dioxide in their laboratory’s in vivo system. They have said that this “offers a health response similar to the human body’s”.
Following this, the researchers then injected the nanoparticles in chicken eggs. When the chickens hatched, the scientists detected changes in the functional, morphological and microbial biomarkers in the blood, the duodenum (upper intestine) and the cecum (a pouch connected to the intestine).
“We are consuming these nanoparticles on a daily basis,” explained Tako. “We don’t really know how much we consume and 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.”
Even with the findings, the scientists are not yet calling for a ban on the use of these nanoparticles in food colouring.
Despite the finding, the scientists are not yet calling for an end to the use of these nanoparticles.
“Based on the information, we suggest simply being aware,” said Tako. “Science needs to conduct further investigations based on our findings. We are opening the door for discussion.”