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New antioxidant developed to increase manufactured food shelf life


A new nanomaterial has been developed that protects other molecules from oxidation.

Developed by scientists from ETH Zurich, the nano antioxidant has a long shelf life, making it ideal for industrial applications.

Antioxidants are found in many fruit and vegetable varieties, coffee, tea and red wine, and are generally regarded as healthy, as they protect the body’s own proteins and the genetic substance from oxidation. Antioxidants are also used in industry, especially as food additives to preserve items for longer.

However, molecules in these antioxidants are not actually very stable. Oxidised in the presence of oxygen, the antioxidants gradually lose their effect. 

The new nano antioxidant is considerably more stable than its conventional counterparts, which means it can be stored more easily and is effective in smaller amounts. ETH Zurich's researchers combined gallic acid with silicon dioxide nanoparticles to stabilise the antioxidant.

Being temperature-resistant, the nano antioxidant can protect food that is pasteurised or polymers produced at high temperatures, unlike conventional antioxidants that become inactive at these temperatures. 

The new antioxidant has been patented with the researchers currently in talks with industrial partners for licensing.

The scientists confirm there are no safety issues with the antioxidant since both gallic acid and the silicon dioxide nanoparticles are deemed harmless, and have been approved by the authorities. They expect tests to confirm that the combination molecule is also safe for cosmetics and food.

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