Dispersing hydrophobic natural colourant β-carotene in shellac particles for enhanced stability and tunable colour

Royal Society Open Science
Dong ChenDavid A Weitz


Colour is one of the most important visual attributes of food and is directly related to the perception of food quality. The interest in natural colourants, especially β-carotene that not only imparts colour but also has well-documented health benefits, has triggered the research and development of different protocols designed to entrap these hydrophobic natural molecules to improve their stability against oxidation. Here, we report a versatile microfluidic approach that uses single emulsion droplets as templates to prepare microparticles loaded with natural colourants. The solution of β-carotene and shellac in the solvent is emulsified by microfluidics into droplets. Upon solvent diffusion, β-carotene and shellac co-precipitates, forming solid microparticles of β-carotene dispersed in the shellac polymer matrix. We substantially improve the stability of β-carotene that is protected from oxidation by the polymer matrix and achieve different colour appearances by loading particles with different β-carotene concentrations. These particles demonstrate great promise for practical use in natural food colouring.


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