Seeing Red

March 25/Food Weekly Focus -- "Bioactive compounds of pulp (CP) and ethanolic (CE) extracts of the cactus pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) were encapsulated with maltodextrin (MID) or inulin (1). A 2 2 statistical factorial design was then used to study the stability of the powders obtained at the optimal conditions for each system (CP-MD, CP-1, CE-MD and CE-1) at 60 degrees C in the dark," scientists writing in the journal Food Chemistry report.

"The 3:1 ratio of core/coating material and 140 degrees C inlet air temperature were the optimal conditions for CP-MD and CE-MD systems; whereas, for CP-I and CE-1, the ratios were 3:1 and 5:1, respectively, and 120 degrees C was used for the inlet air temperature for both systems. An increase of phenolic compounds was observed in all systems during storage at 60 degrees C. Indicaxanthins in all systems showed a slow degradation during storage at 60 degrees C and were more stable than betacyanins," wrote C. Saenz and colleagues, University of Chile.

The researchers concluded, "The microcapsules described in this study represent an interesting food additive for incorporation into functional foods, due to both the presence of antioxidants and as a red colorant."

Saenz and colleagues published their study in Food Chemistry ("Microencapsulation by spray drying of bioactive compounds from cactus pear (Opuntia ficus-indica)." Food Chemistry, 2009;114(2):616-622).

Additional information can be obtained by contacting C. Saenz, University of Chile, Dept. of Agroind & Enol, Faculty Ciencias Agron, Santiago 1004, Chile.

From the March 30, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition