Anthraquinone Gives Peppers Color

Colorful Chili Powders

Anthraquinone in Foods

What is Anthraquinone? It is a natural, organic compound present in certain types of plants, insects, and fungi. It adds to the color of these types of organisms. This makes it useful for making dyes on a commercial level. Powdered anthraquinone produces any one of a wide range of colors. They range from gray to green or yellow. For this reason, there are different dyes of varying colors made from the substance found in peppers.

Uses of Anthraquinone

Anthraquinone is often used in ways other than making dyes. One industrial application is to use it to make hydrogen peroxide. Another use is for making paper pulp. In some areas, it is often used as an insect repellent and it is often used to treat seeds to make them repel bugs and damaging pests. In New Zealand, shepherds use it to protect flocks of sheep from Kea.

One primary use is to make packaging used for food products. Until just a few years ago, it was considered safe. However, in recent years, some areas like Germany started banning its use. They particularly ban it for making materials used for baking or packaging that come in contact with food products. It is now thought to be a carcinogen and its use is slowly being discontinued.

Anthraquinone and Peppers

Chipotle Meco Dried Pods

Chipotle Peppers

Ever wonder about the connection between Anthraquinone and peppers? Wood containing this substance creates the smoke for chipotle, or smoked peppers. When the peppers come into contact with it, they absorb it. Peppers dried in Mexico often contain the harmful substance. In recent years, companies exercise more caution to keep peppers from coming into contact with it.

Health Issues Associated with Anthraquinone

What health issues can occur with exposure? There have been several studies which have shown the hazards of ingesting Anthraquinone. When consumed, it can be a liver carcinogen. Some studies have also shown it to produce non-cancerous tumors or lesions on different organs. It disrupts the endocrine system and can also have a laxative effect.

Safe Handling Procedures

What can I do to avoid contact with it? Handling Anthraquinone in order to manufacture dyes and other products can be hazardous. Workers have to wear respirators to keep from inhaling particles that can cause harm. They also wear gloves and eyewear. Rhubarb contains some Anthraquinone naturally. Some think it can help prevent some cancers. So it’s not necessary to avoid it altogether. However, before buying dried peppers it is important to make certain the company did not use any wood treated with it to dry the peppers. You may also check with manufacturers of paper products to be sure they did not use it in the manufacturing process.


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