There is interest in incorporating nanoemulsions into certain foods and beverages, including dips, dressings, drinks, spreads, and sauces, due to their potentially beneficial attributes. In particular, excipient nanoemulsions can enhance the bioavailability of nutraceuticals in fruit- and vegetable-containing products consumed with them. There is, however, potential for them to also raise the bioavailability of undesirable substances found in these products, such as pesticides. In this research, we studied the impact of excipient nanoemulsions on the bioaccessibility of pesticide-treated tomatoes. We hypothesized that the propensity for nanoemulsions to raise pesticide bioaccessibility would depend on the polarity of the pesticide molecules. Bendiocarb, parathion, and chlorpyrifos were therefore selected because they have Log P values of 1.7, 3.8, and 5.3, respectively. Nanoemulsions with different oil contents (0%, 4%, and 8%) were fabricated to study their impact on pesticide uptake. In the absence of oil, the bioaccessibility increased with increasing pesticide polarity (decreasing Log P): bendiocarb (92.9%) > parathion (16.4%) > chlorpyrifos (2.8%). Bendiocarb bioaccessibility did not depend on the oil content of the nanoemulsions, which was attributed to its relatively high water-solubility. Conversely, the bioaccessibility of the more hydrophobic pesticides (parathion and chlorpyrifos) increased with increasing oil content. For instance, for chlorpyrifos, the bioaccessibility was 2.8%, 47.0%, and 70.7% at 0%, 4%, and 8% oil content, respectively. Our findings have repercussions for the utilization of nanoemulsions as excipient foods in products that may have high levels of undesirable non-polar substances, such as pesticides.
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