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7th November 2015

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Active Ingredients: Chemical vs. Enzymatic Extraction

Safety concerns are growing over the conventional use of organic solvents, such as hexane or ethanol, in consumer foods. Even though the intention is to reduce the presence of solvents to negligible levels, they are still gaining an increasingly “toxic” reputation.

In parallel, consumer demand for clean label products that are completely free from chemical solvents is increasing. Some ingredient manufacturers are responding to this demand with options for non-chemical extraction methods, such as the use of enzymes or supercritical carbon dioxide.

Active components from traditional botanical extractions are the material basis for food ingredient and disease treatment. Extraction, identification, and transformation are the critical processes to analyse and use the active components.  Some active components are complex and of a lower level; moreover, most of them are enveloped under a plant cell wall. Traditional extraction methods are often hindered by the cell wall, leading to low extraction efficiency, low clearance of impurity, and other problems, which have restricted the development of the sector.

Enzymatic Extraction

To combat the above mentioned issues, manufacturers are applying enzymatic methods and principles to the extraction and transformation of active ingredients. Using enzymes can not only improve the extraction rate while elevating the transformation level and production of active ingredients, but also significantly reduce costs.

For now, conventional chemical solvents still have a place in industry—the equipment is less complex, extraction methods are simpler, and some ingredient sources rely on conventional chemical solvents as the only current means for extraction. Regulatory groups throughout the world also have safety levels in place for minimum residuals of these solvents in the finished product.

However, in summary, companies worldwide are taking extra steps to reduce conventional chemical solvent exposure as much as possible, and enzymes can be the solution.

By Blanca Camarasa

Sector Sales Manager
@Blanca_Biocats

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