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Metal release from stainless steel 316L in whey protein - And simulated milk solutions under static and stirring conditions

Atapour, Masoud, Wei, Zheng, Chaudhary, Himanshu, Lendel, Christofer, Odnevall Wallinder, Inger, Hedberg, Yolanda
Food control 2019 v.101 pp. 163-172
ambient temperature, beverages, chromium, corrosion, electrochemistry, food safety, ions, iron, magnetism, milk, mixing, nickel, pH, phosphates, protein aggregates, sodium chloride, spectroscopy, stainless steel, whey protein
Stainless steel is an important transport and processing contact material for bovine milk and dairy products. Release (migration) of metals, ions, complexes or wear debris/particles, and metal-induced protein aggregation in such environments are hence important to consider both from a corrosion and food safety perspective. This study aims on investigating the release of iron (Fe), chromium (Cr), and nickel (Ni) from AISI 316L stainless steel in contact with whey protein solutions relevant for protein drinks, and on how the whey proteins are influenced by stirring with a magnetic stir bar and metal release. Mechanistic insight is gained by parallel investigations of metal release from two reference non-protein containing solutions, a metal-complexing (citrate-containing) simulated milk solution (SMS) and a low complexing phosphate buffered saline solution (PBS). All immersion exposures were conducted at pH 6.8 for 0.5, 4, 24 and 48 h at room temperature at static and stirring conditions. All solutions and samples were investigated using different chemical, spectroscopic, microscopic, and electrochemical methods.Significantly higher amounts of Fe, Cr, and Ni were released into the whey protein solution (80 g/L) as compared to SMS and PBS. Strong enrichment of Cr in the surface oxide and reduction of the surface oxide thickness were associated with a higher amount of Ni release in the metal-complexing solutions (SMS and whey protein) compared with PBS. Stirring conditions resulted in higher amounts of metal release, enrichment of Cr in the surface oxide, and clear signs of wear of the 316L surface in all solutions compared to static conditions. The wear mechanism in the whey protein solution was different as compared to corresponding processes in SMS and PBS, involving an etching-like process and larger-sized wear debris. Electrochemical measurements at static conditions confirmed observed differences between the solutions, with the lowest corrosion resistance observed for coupons exposed in the whey protein solution, followed by SMS and PBS. Released metals in solution from the 316L coupons in contact with the whey protein solution resulted in enhanced rates of protein aggregation and precipitation of protein aggregates from solution. Further studies should be made to investigate other relevant test conditions and assess toxicological risks.