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posted by martyb on Sunday April 11, @06:03PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the blue-goo dept.

Natural brilliant blue food coloring wrung out of red cabbage:

For decades, concerns have been raised about the safety of synthetic food dyes, and while the evidence against them is still unclear, natural colorings are generally preferred. Most of these pigments are sourced from plants, although a few come from crushed insects. But frustratingly, not all colors are easy to find in these places.

"Blue colors are really quite rare in nature – a lot of them are really reds and purples," says Pamela Denish, an author of the new study.

[...] As you might expect, most of the anthocyanins in red cabbage are red or purple, but there are tiny amounts of blue in there too. After about a decade of trying, a team of scientists from a range of institutions and food companies has now managed to extract useful amounts of blue by converting other anthocyanins.

Doing so required exactly the right enzyme, so the team screened a library of millions of them, and used computational simulations to explore about 100 quintillion potential protein sequences. Eventually, they were able to design the perfect enzyme for the job of converting the red and purple anthocyanins into blue ones.

The end result, the team says, is a natural cyan dye equivalent to the widely used synthetic FD&C Blue No. 1.

Journal Reference:
Pamela R. Denish, Julie-Anne Fenger, Randall Powers, et al. Discovery of a natural cyan blue: A unique food-sourced anthocyanin could replace synthetic brilliant blue [open], Science Advances (DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abe7871)


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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @06:12PM (24 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @06:12PM (#1136074)

    Why do I want food to be blue that isn't naturally so? There's one thing I can think of that I want to be blue, and it's right in the name: blueberries. Why did nature make it rare? What might be lurking in our systems that might trigger something that's long term unhealthy, even if the dye isn't toxic--like how artificial sweeteners mess with our systems in weird ways because we got the taste but not the sugar.

    I say, if you're not eating blueberries and your food is blue, that's probably a sign that you're eating something unhealthy.

    Nobody needs blue food.

    Apparently, somebody wants it though. They even want to drink weirdly colored blue fluids, stuff that looks like glass cleaner.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @06:18PM (5 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @06:18PM (#1136077)

      We found a natural blue coloring. Great, let's learn how to produce it synthetically to avoid the extraction and putting pressure on the red cabbage market.

      • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @08:09PM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @08:09PM (#1136111)

        Why would that put pressure on the red cabbage market? What else are they going to do with the stuff? It's not like anyone eats it, after all.

        Well, I take that back -- I suppose some desperate people in the middle of a famine might eat some of it, after they get tired of the taste of boiled shoe leather.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @09:09PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @09:09PM (#1136130)

          Put a bit of soy and chillies into the pot, those shoes will taste much better. if you have time leave it to steep to better infuse into the soles.

          • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @11:39PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @11:39PM (#1136162)

            Sole food?

        • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Monday April 12, @03:44PM

          by Freeman (732) on Monday April 12, @03:44PM (#1136461) Journal

          Red cabbage is tasty. Makes good coleslaw, vegetable stew, meat stew for that matter, also who hasn't had boiled cabbage and potatos? Maybe, I'm from a weird place that eats real food?

          --
          "I said in my haste, All men are liars." Psalm 116:11
      • (Score: 2) by driverless on Monday April 12, @03:52AM

        by driverless (4770) on Monday April 12, @03:52AM (#1136243)

        There's also the issue that "natural" isn't necessarily good. Arsenic is a 100% natural green colouring but I don't see anyone putting it in food, although they did put it in wallpaper at one point until it killed too many people. In fact given that the synthetics have seen vast amounts of testing and decades of use across a massive user base, we have a pretty good idea of what we're getting with them. Going to some recently-discovered "natural" alternative, we don't have any of that.

        Natural arsenic-green M&M anyone?

    • (Score: 2) by drussell on Sunday April 11, @06:22PM (3 children)

      by drussell (2678) on Sunday April 11, @06:22PM (#1136079) Journal

      Blueberries aren't even actually blue inside, they're very purple, but they do look kinda blue due to that "frosted" look on the outside.

      I agree, why would you want to eat blue food?

      If nothing natural is blue, why on earth would you want to eat fake blue food?

      • (Score: 3, Touché) by Mojibake Tengu on Sunday April 11, @06:33PM

        by Mojibake Tengu (8598) on Sunday April 11, @06:33PM (#1136086) Journal

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherenkov_radiation [wikipedia.org]

        Just don't say "nothing natural is blue"...

        --
        The edge of 太玄 cannot be defined, for it is beyond every aspect of design
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, @02:46PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, @02:46PM (#1136413)

        "Cakes! Everybody likes cakes!"

        • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Monday April 12, @07:36PM

          by Freeman (732) on Monday April 12, @07:36PM (#1136621) Journal

          The cake is a lie!

          --
          "I said in my haste, All men are liars." Psalm 116:11
    • (Score: 2) by NateMich on Sunday April 11, @06:46PM

      by NateMich (6662) on Sunday April 11, @06:46PM (#1136091)

      stuff that looks like glass cleaner./quote.

      Glass cleaner is only blue because they put dye in it. It doesn't need to be at all, but people think it should be, so...

    • (Score: 2) by looorg on Sunday April 11, @07:07PM (1 child)

      by looorg (578) on Sunday April 11, @07:07PM (#1136096)

      Can't really think of many blue dishes or food-stuff if you don't want to include ice-cream, candy and some soda. That said I'm sure it's one of those normally weird things that when people don't know what real food looks like they buy into some idea of what it's supposed to look like -- like meat isn't really red or the levels of red they use yet every steak in the store is red like a baboons ass. People just don't know better anymore when they are so disconnected from how food actually is made or what it looks like in its original shape and form.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by krishnoid on Sunday April 11, @07:10PM

      by krishnoid (1156) on Sunday April 11, @07:10PM (#1136099)

      Why do I want food to be blue that isn't naturally so?

      Some people need a little empathy when they experience depression, you insensitive clod.

    • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @08:41PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @08:41PM (#1136116)

      We need blue food because blue is the color of the triumphant Democratic Party. For the next four years it's blue hair, blue food and mandatory transgender bathrooms to accommodate the likes of Azuma.

      • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by Azuma Hazuki on Monday April 12, @12:06AM

        by Azuma Hazuki (5086) on Monday April 12, @12:06AM (#1136177) Journal

        Just a guess, but are you that whiny little AC from the other thread who's really, really mad at me? :)

        --
        I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
    • (Score: 3, Funny) by shortscreen on Sunday April 11, @08:53PM

      by shortscreen (2252) Subscriber Badge on Sunday April 11, @08:53PM (#1136123) Journal

      If the crunch berries didn't turn your butthole blue then how else would you know they were working??

    • (Score: 2, Funny) by khallow on Sunday April 11, @10:38PM (2 children)

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday April 11, @10:38PM (#1136151) Journal

      Why do I want food to be blue that isn't naturally so?

      How can you have blue flavored food, if it's not blue? Imbecile!

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, @04:13PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, @04:13PM (#1136485)

        Blue is not a flavor.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, @05:42PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, @05:42PM (#1136544)

          Blue tastes a lot like green... but with less yellow. More like copper than brass.

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by Azuma Hazuki on Monday April 12, @12:03AM

      by Azuma Hazuki (5086) on Monday April 12, @12:03AM (#1136176) Journal

      Do you know what makes blueberries blue(ish?) Anthocyanins. Do you know what kind of chemical this dye is? An anthocyanin.

      The entire *point* is that this is an analog of one of the very, *very* rare naturally-occurring blue substances; most of the time when we see blue in nature and it's not the sky, it's not actually blue pigment but a trick of the light.

      --
      I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
    • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Monday April 12, @01:47AM

      by fustakrakich (6150) on Monday April 12, @01:47AM (#1136216) Journal

      What might be lurking in our systems that might trigger something that's long term unhealthy

      JavaScript... As evil as flash

      --
      Ok, we paid the ransom. Do I get my dog back? REDЯUM
    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Reziac on Monday April 12, @01:56AM

      by Reziac (2489) on Monday April 12, @01:56AM (#1136221) Homepage

      I dunno, but I'm amazed they took so long to discover this. Anyone who's managed to squish red cabbage on a white shirt discovers a blue stain.

      Speaking of oddly-colored food, I once made an onion pie with a purple onion (of a type no longer on the market, far as I can find) and was astonished to discover that it came out bright green.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, @06:00PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, @06:00PM (#1136559)

      Nobody needs blue food.

      How else can you hide your mistakes in the kitchen [wikipedia.org]. See episode 3 - "Subject to Contract".

  • (Score: -1, Spam) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @06:12PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @06:12PM (#1136075)

    Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
    Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
    Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
    Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

    Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
    I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
    Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
    Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

    Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
    Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
    Thou my soul's Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
    Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

    Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise,
    Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
    Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
    High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

    High King of Heaven, my victory won,
    May I reach Heaven's joys, O bright Heaven's Sun!
    Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
    Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

    • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @10:07PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @10:07PM (#1136141)

      The Lord Is My Shepherd
      Spam

      Turn The Other Cheek
      Spam

      Let He Who Is without Sin Cast the First Stone
      Spam

      Smite, smite, smite, smite...
      +3 Insightful

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @06:28PM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @06:28PM (#1136081)

    That summary was unclear, but the paper shows a different molecule. This isn't some sort of all-natural source of Blue No. 1. It's a new molecule synthesized by the action of enzymes on natural cabbage molecules.

    Being a new molecule, it should undergo all the normal safety checks.

    The terrible news: this molecule only works when 3 of them surround an aluminum ion. Fuck that. Aluminum is suspected of being involved in Alzheimer's disease. (but it doesn't cause cancer, so it's good, right?) Pretty soon, this will be in all our food.

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday April 11, @10:35PM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday April 11, @10:35PM (#1136150) Journal
      It sure looks like a synthetic chemical made from natural chemicals, just like every other dye in existence.
    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Sunday April 11, @11:56PM

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Sunday April 11, @11:56PM (#1136172) Journal

      Aluminum is suspected of being involved in Alzheimer's disease.

      And so it's iron, copper and zinc [dementia.org.au]

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, @01:48AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, @01:48AM (#1136218)

      Nothing to worry about. It's the same technology as blue LED bulbs. Only crunchier.

      Somebody got a Nobel Prize for the blue LED. I smell another Nobel coming!

    • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Monday April 12, @07:48AM

      by maxwell demon (1608) on Monday April 12, @07:48AM (#1136287) Journal

      There's no point in restricting those safety checks to artificial substances. Natural substances can be quite poisonous, too. And yes, that includes higher concentrations of substances that are part of our normal food in low concentration.

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
  • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @06:43PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @06:43PM (#1136090)

    That's a beautiful hymn, thanks for posting it! I love God so much.

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by hendrikboom on Sunday April 11, @07:06PM (15 children)

    by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Sunday April 11, @07:06PM (#1136095) Homepage Journal

    It's supposed to be good because it's natural?
    Cyanide is natural too. It's produced by cassavas.

    Well, technically, it contains cyanogenic glycosides, which can release cyanide in the body when consumed [healthline.com]

    • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @07:10PM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @07:10PM (#1136098)

      Why didn't they just use horseshoe crab blood?

      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday April 12, @12:13AM (2 children)

        by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 12, @12:13AM (#1136181) Journal

        The same reason they don't use the most common blood for reds - the color is not stable for long enough.
        You may want to suggest hydrated copper sulfate.

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
        • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, @12:23AM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, @12:23AM (#1136190)

          》The same reason they don't use the most common blood for reds - the color is not stable

          Thank you for that, Count, but the actual reason is that humans don't like blood as much as your kind does.

    • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Sunday April 11, @07:20PM (1 child)

      by krishnoid (1156) on Sunday April 11, @07:20PM (#1136102)

      Don't forget what you can get out of castor beans [cdc.gov].

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by Beryllium Sphere (r) on Sunday April 11, @08:34PM (3 children)

      by Beryllium Sphere (r) (5062) on Sunday April 11, @08:34PM (#1136113)

      Thank you. I came in to post that.

      Plants are full of poisons to stop themselves from being eaten. Even plants we think of as edible are sometimes only giving sub-toxic doses. The only reason to prefer natural molecules is the chance that we've evolved to detoxify them.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, @01:02AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, @01:02AM (#1136205)

        The answer is easy, marketing. "Natural" is one of those words that sells really well. Even if it doesn't actually mean anything in that context, people import all sorts of secondary meanings on it. Just look at how well "ban dihydrogen monoxide" does in polls, the inability for people to describe what "organic food" is when asked, or calling everything bad "chemicals." All of that is just from the effort to separate people who don't want to think about these things from their money.

      • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Monday April 12, @12:58PM (1 child)

        by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 12, @12:58PM (#1136345) Homepage Journal

        Some of those plants we eat because of their poisons. I'm thinking of hot peppers.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, @03:15PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, @03:15PM (#1136440)

          Also broccoli

    • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Sunday April 11, @08:35PM (4 children)

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday April 11, @08:35PM (#1136115) Homepage Journal

      Thank you. My first thought was "natural isn't always good". Rattlesnake venom is all natural, but I don't want a dose of it. Of course, if they have to squeeze 30 pounds of cabbage to get enough of the stuff to color my serving of - yogurt, I guess? Then it's still not "natural". The stuff may kill me, and God will readily tell me that he measured the stuff to be good, if you only eat a few ounces of cabbage at a time.

      --
      "Trust the science" -- Tony Fauci and his army of psycophants
      • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Monday April 12, @01:58AM (3 children)

        by fustakrakich (6150) on Monday April 12, @01:58AM (#1136222) Journal

        Rattlesnake venom is all natural, but I don't want a dose of it.

        Don't be so hasty [time.com]

        --
        Ok, we paid the ransom. Do I get my dog back? REDЯUM
        • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Monday April 12, @01:04PM (2 children)

          by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 12, @01:04PM (#1136347) Homepage Journal

          Poisons, natural or not, are often used to treat cancer. The idea is to find a poison that the patient's cancer is slightly more sensitive to than the patients non-cancerous tissues. Then you poison him to within an inch of his life, keeping him on life support so he doesn't die, but the cancer does.

          If one poison doesn't do the trick (cancer not more sensitive than body cells), another might.

          • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Monday April 12, @06:05PM (1 child)

            by fustakrakich (6150) on Monday April 12, @06:05PM (#1136568) Journal

            I believe anti-venom is the most common use of snake poison. The cancer treatment is still theoretical.

            --
            Ok, we paid the ransom. Do I get my dog back? REDЯUM
            • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Tuesday April 13, @03:50AM

              by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday April 13, @03:50AM (#1136834) Homepage Journal

              Not sure about this particular venom, but my wife was a doctor who among other thing treated cancer patients with a variety of poisons -- occasionally one was snake-derived.

              Too bad I can no longer ask her for the details.

              -- hendrik

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @07:47PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @07:47PM (#1136108)

    If Allah wanted us to eat blue food, then he would be offering jihadis a blue food buffet in heaven instead of 72 virgins.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @08:58PM (5 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @08:58PM (#1136126)

    I thought everyone knew that red cabbage had a blue color. Perhabs I'm the only one who do the dished by hand and soak the pot used for red cabbage. Perhabs I should report my everyday life to scientists ;)

    • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @09:13PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @09:13PM (#1136132)

      washing dishes by hand, it will never catch on, repeatability is out the window.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by sensei_moreh on Sunday April 11, @11:00PM (1 child)

      by sensei_moreh (4698) on Sunday April 11, @11:00PM (#1136153)

      Red cabbage was my go to alternative to litmus paper when the latter is unavailable and I need an indicator to distinguish acidic solutions from basic solutions.

      --
      Geology - It's not rocket science; it's rock science
      • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, @12:19AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, @12:19AM (#1136188)

        Red cabbage? Luxury. We used to have to get out of the lake at six o'clock in the morning, clean the lake, eat a handful of 'ot gravel, work twenty hour day at mill for tuppence a month, come home, and Dad would thrash us to sleep with a broken bottle, if we were lucky.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by KritonK on Monday April 12, @08:44AM

      by KritonK (465) on Monday April 12, @08:44AM (#1136292)

      Indeed. A few years ago, I thought I'd dye Easter eggs using natural ingredients. Looking it up, I found the following suggestions: onion skins for brown, turmeric for yellow, beets for red, and red cabbage for blue. Although red cabbage is purple, the eggs turned out a grayish blue.

      (For those interested, onion skins and turmeric worked best, red cabbage produced a powdery coating that was easily scratched, and beets didn't work at all, as the color did not stick to the eggs.)

    • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Tuesday April 13, @03:52AM

      by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday April 13, @03:52AM (#1136835) Homepage Journal

      The cones that detect blue in our eyes have a secondary sensitivity peak in the red part of the spectrum. Thus closing the so-called colour wheel.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @08:58PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, @08:58PM (#1136127)

    maybe if it's blue the ants won't touch it?

  • (Score: 3, Touché) by VanessaE on Monday April 12, @09:24AM (1 child)

    This by you is "brilliant"? To be perfectly honest, I was expecting along the lines of lapis lazuli or cobalt blue. Though I suppose being an extract of cabbage, that might have been too much to ask.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, @09:51AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, @09:51AM (#1136301)

      Yeah that was a pathetic "blue" especially considering the number of steps they took and the type of steps.

      This blue looks much nicer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qI0rd6brcTk [youtube.com]

      But don't consume too much of it and definitely don't consume the other parts of the plant (e.g. the roots)...

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