“Does light affect food quality?” -Shenil J.

What prompted Shenil’s question was NYC’s new installation of translucent, bright refrigerators.  Here are the facts when it comes to light and vitamins.

Yes, “light” affects food quality – ultraviolet radiation (sunlight) weakens vitamin bond-stability.  But fluorescent light from refrigerator bulbs do not produce the same degrading effects.

One of the most fragile vitamins when exposed to sunlight is Riboflavin (B2) and Vitamin A (both vitamins are found in milk).  To prevent breakdown, foods rich in these vitamins (milk and cereal) are packaged in opaque plastic containers.  Carotenoids (orange foods), anthocyanins (blue foods) and chlorophyll (green foods) have naturally bright shades that can also be degraded when exposed to sun-light.  But in their plastic containers or wrapping, little to no degradation occurs.

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