Studying nano-sized food additives at UMass-Amherst | Behind the Science



December 17, 2018

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  • Nano-size food additives, also known as nanoparticles, are found in many food products. What are they? How small are they? Do they interact with tissues or organs after being absorbed in the digestive system?

    In #BehindtheScience, Jen meets XiaQiong Cao, Ph.D., at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. These nanoparticles can include titanium dioxide, for whitening; zinc oxide as anti-bacterial agents; or silica nanoparticles for anti-caking agents in powdery foods. She shows how her team is measuring the size and impact of nano-size food additives in animal studies.

    What can we do to minimize any possible adverse effects? One answer might be to consume flavonoids, which are found in fruits, vegetables and tea leaves. They bind to and aggregate nanoparticles, potentially resulting in lower absorption and lower toxicity. So, an apple of day – or a cup of tea – really does make sense!

    Read the peer-reviewed paper:
    Characterization of the Interactions between Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles and Polymethoxyflavones Using Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy

    Analytical TechniquesChromatographyMass Spectrometry

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