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Scientists create hair dyes from Ribena blackcurrant skins



Ribena: Good for thirst, and your hair

Blackcurrant skins left over in the production of Ribena have been used to create a new type of hair dye.

Scientists at the University of Leeds developed the new technique by extracting natural colouring from the waste skins.

Colour chemist Richard Blackburn said the aim was to create a more natural alternative to existing products.

“Because of issues and concerns around conventional dyes, we wanted to develop biodegradable alternatives that minimise potential risks to health and offer consumers a different option,” he said.


Blackcurrant skins contain high concentrations of anthocyanins – pigments that provide colour to many berries, flowers, fruits and vegetables.

“They are non-toxic, water soluble and responsible for pink, red, purple, violet and blue colours, and are widely used as natural food colourants all over the world,” Dr Blackburn said.

“We knew they bound strongly with proteins – hair is a protein – so we thought if we could find an appropriate source of these natural colours, we might be able to dye hair.”

Patented technology developed by the scientists enables the pigment to be extracted from the fruit to provide intense red, purple and blue colours on hair.

Further colours can be created – including brown tones – by mixing the blackcurrant pigment with natural yellow.

The colours are expected to last for at least 12 washes, similar to other semi-permanent dyes on the market, according to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Dr Blackburn said the berries “represent a sustainable supply of raw material because of how much blackcurrant cordial we drink”.

Researchers are commercialising the groundbreaking technology through a University of Leeds spin-out company, Keracol Limited, under the brand Dr Craft.

There have been concerns over whether ingredients in common synthetic hair dyes can cause cancer, and their effects on the environment are unknown.


Health & Lifestyle

Cote d’Ivoire: Destroying the Killer Rice



Authorities in Cote d’Ivoire have destroyed 18,000 tonnes of rice declared to be unfit for human consumption.

This follows tests carried out by the country’s consumer association which had demanded the government to do so after the cargo from Myanmar had been refused entry in Togo, Guinea and Ghana over quality issues.

The national and international quality control tests revealed the unfit nature of the rice.

It should be noted that most African countries depend on imports because local farmers are unable to meet the ever rising demands.

Source: Africanews

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Health & Lifestyle

Mali: Donkeys deliver vaccines as diseases spike with violence



Reuters DAKAR –

With spiraling ethnic violence exposing more children in Mali to fatal diseases, health workers are using donkeys and boats to deliver life-saving vaccines, charities said on Wednesday.

In the central Mopti region – where 157 people died in one attack last month – suspected measles cases rose five-fold in one year to 98 in 2018, U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said, due to a four-fold jump in unvaccinated children to 70,000.

Motorcycles, which health workers used to reach remote villages, have been banned to reduce militant activity, forcing them to use traditional means like horses, it said.

“The problem of vaccination is directly linked to the current conflict,” said Patrick Irenge, medical coordinator for the charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), which is using cars and boats as mobile clinics to reach cut off communities.

“If there is a lull in the violence, a small window that opens, we organize a vaccination campaign.”

Last month’s massacre was the deadliest to date in a conflict between Dogon hunters and Fulani herders which has displaced tens of thousands of civilians in the West African country since it escalated last year.

Pneumonia is one of the top killers of children in Mali and it can be prevented with vaccines – as can measles – but it is too dangerous for many parents to venture out with children.

“Transport is difficult because we don’t have the means to rent a vehicle or a horse cart,” said Aissata Barry, a 34-year-old mother in the village of Kankelena, about 4 km (2.5 miles) from the nearest health center in the town of Sofara.

“There are rapists on the road. That’s what we’re afraid of,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone, adding that one of her neighbors was raped two weeks ago.

Mamadou Kasse, a local health worker who vaccinated Barry’s children, said the number of children he can reach each day has fallen since he swapped his motorbike for an eight-hour ride in a donkey cart with a cooler full of vaccines.

Reporting by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit

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