UC_Davis

Description: We’ve come to expect vivid colors in our food, however, with the current push against synthetic food dyes, some of the bright colors we’ve all learned to love may soon start to disappear. These changes stem from uncertainty about the safety of synthetic food colors in relation to human health, both short term and long term. Although some of the controversy pertaining synthetic food colorings and health is not conclusive, the FDA and an overwhelming amount of consumers are placing increasing pressure on corporations to rid their products of artificial colors. Recently, large corporations such as Mars, Kraft, General Mills, and Nestle USA have promised to use all natural food coloring by 2020. However, switching this market to natural food colorings has provided numerous issues. The current market of natural food colorings is limited in both the cultivation, vibrancy, and color range. For example, the spice turmeric is commonly used to replace yellow dyes. Not only does turmeric cultivation require arable land, since it is such a small market it is subject to dramatic market fluctuations – between late 2009 and 2011 the price of turmeric rose about $100 per kilogram. The natural alternative to red dyes is carmine, which is the ground scales of certain Porphyrophora species which clearly provides consumer concerns because the dye is not Halal or vegan. Grass organisms, like Spirulina provided a promising alternative; however, the lack of color vibrancy is significantly inhibiting it’s use. Color is an intrinsic aspect of our lives and essential to how we perceive food and our goal is to keep this standard for generations to come. Here, we seek to use synthetic biology to remove the use of arable land for synthetic dye production, lessen consumer concerns, and bring market stability to a multi-billion dollar industry. Our plan involves harvesting the color capabilities of cyanobacteria to provide a viable alternative to synthetic dyes. In our project, we aimed to optimize production of our colored proteins and expand the available spectrum to match current industry standards.
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Year: 2016Visit Wiki
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Updated at: 8/9/16