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Pectin is an example of a food safe polyelectrolyte. It acts as an acid because it is a proton donor and develops negative charges along the polymer.

Can you think of any examples of food safe polyelectrolytes that act as bases and develop positive charges along the polymer?

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  • $\begingroup$ I voted to close this as "Too Broad," but I also upvoted it, because I think you may be trying to ask something like "Is there any reason there can't be a food safe polyelectrolyte?" and I think that's a good question. $\endgroup$ – Colin McFaul Sep 21 '13 at 1:35
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Pectin is a heteropolysaccharide rich in galacturonic acid:

enter image description here

The carboxylic acid in galacturonic acid gives pectin the ionizable character. Pectin can react with bases to form carboxylate anions along the polysaccharide chain.

There exists a sugar-derivative and polysaccharide with opposite behavior - they react with acids to produce cations along the polysaccharide chain. The modified sugar is glucosamine, and the polysaccharides are chitin and chitosan(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chitosan). The amine ($\ce{NH2}$) group on glucosamine is basic and will react with acids to become cationic.

enter image description here

Glucosamine is used as a dietary supplement, and chitin and chitosan are found in various foods, like fungi and shellfish.

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