Pecan (Carya illinoinensis (Wagenh.) K. Koch) Nut Shell as an Accessible Polyphenol Source for Active Packaging and Food Colorant Stabilization

Federica Moccia, Sarai Agustin-Salazar, Anna Lisa Berg, Brunella Setaro, Raffaella Micillo, Elio Pizzo, Fabian Weber, Nohemi Gamez-Meza, Andreas Schieber, Pierfrancesco Cerruti*, Lucia Panzella, Alessandra Napolitano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Herein, the antioxidant and food stabilizing properties of a pecan nut shell (PNS) hydroalcoholic extract (PNSE) are reported. Chemical degradation of PNSE demonstrated the presence of condensed tannins as the main phenolic components. PNSE showed remarkable antioxidant properties in the 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) assay (EC50 = 0.004 mg/mL). PNSE was initially tested as an inhibitor of mushroom tyrosinase, exhibiting a quite low IC50 value (0.055 mg/mL) against the enzyme diphenolase activity, suggesting its use in enzymatic browning inhibition. The anthocyanin stabilization properties were evaluated under accelerated aging conditions of both pure pigments and commercial fruit juices, and PNSE was found to be effective at concentrations (0.05 mg/mL) at which well-known stabilizers such as chlorogenic and ferulic acids proved to fail. PNSE also performed well in the stabilization of spray-dried anthocyanins for use as a food colorant, increasing the half-life of blackberry anthocyanins up to 20%. In order to explore the possibility of using PNSE as a functional additive for active packaging, polylactic acid (PLA) films containing PNSE were prepared by solvent casting, and no substantial alteration of the mechanical properties was found on addition of the extract up to 10% w/w. The films showed remarkable antioxidant properties (DDPH reduction >60% with a 3% w/w loading, at a dose of 1 mg/mL in the DPPH solution) and delayed the onset of browning of apple smoothies (ca. 30% inhibition with a 10% w/w loading). These results highlight the exploitation of PNS as a low-cost polyphenol source for food industry applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6700-6712
Number of pages13
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number17
StatePublished - 4 May 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Chemical Society.


  • Active packaging
  • Anthocyanins
  • Antioxidant
  • Condensed tannins
  • Food colorant stabilization
  • Fruit browning inhibition
  • Pecan nut shell
  • Polylactic acid


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