Genotoxicological safety assessment of puree-only edible films from onion bulb (Allium cepa L.) for use in food packaging-related applications
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Abstract: The production of films and coatings from onion (Allium cepa L.) to be applied as packaging is attractive, due to its high nutritional and therapeutic value. Also, it can collaborate to minimize environmental impacts caused by the improper disposal of products made from plastics. However, despite it being an innovative and novel proposal, onion films for the development of edible packaging should be evaluated before being considered nontoxic and safe for human consumption. Thus, the objective of the present study was to elucidate the cytotoxic and mutagenic profile of eluates of polymer films of Allium cepa L. obtained by the casting process and to verify their safety for commercial purposes. The analysis of cellular viability demonstrated greater cytotoxicity for unwashed hydrothermally treated pulp (HTP) than for films of washed hydrothermally treated pulp (W-HTP). Regarding the mutagenic activity, the HTP and W-HTP films were not able to statistically increase the frequencies of the biomarkers for chromosome damage (micronucleus test) at the tested concentrations. However, the HTP films showed signs of mutagenicity in the Ames test (gene mutations), suggesting caution in their use. The detection of genotoxicity is highly recommended in order to avoid the risk of genotoxic exposure to mutagens and carcinogens. In conclusion, the absence of mutagenicity and cytotoxicity observed in this study is extremely relevant, because it provides support for toxicogenic properties of the Allium cepa films with promising applicability in the food industry. Practical Application: The bioplastics made from onion bulbs are multifunctional materials, which requires safety profile assessment. The results of the mutagenicity and cytotoxicity tests suggests that especially the W-HTP films are harmless, supporting at the first level of evidence, its safety potential to be used in the food industry (food films), biodegradable packaging, and biomaterials (substrates for drug delivery system).