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Valensa Obtains Patents for Chia Ingredients

ORLANDO, Fla.—Valensa International received a series of patents on its chia production technology and proprietary chia-based products, demonstrating advances in processing technology for safe, nutritious ingredients.

The patent US 8,586,104 covers the method of manufacturing a 2-year stable chia seed oil using supercritical fluid-based extraction followed by fractionation. US 8,652,544 is a composition of matter patent, covering highly stable, zero rancidity defatted whole grain flour derived from whole ground chia seeds that include 30 percent protein, 30 percent to 40 percent insoluble fiber and about 2 percent to 3 percent fructo-oligosaccharides. The patent also covers a broad range of formulated applications for the material. US 8,574,637 is a composition of matter patent covering a stable supercritical CO2 extracted, fractionated chia seed oil and its combination with a number of other ingredients, including fish oil, krill oil, borage oil, olive oil and the addition of astaxanthin.

The announcement of these patents is set against a backdrop in which the FDA and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have issued salmonella-related food recall warnings for various products containing sprouted chia seeds and sprouted chia seed powder. Valensa’s approach to seed selection and processing can help prevent these warnings.

Chia is a natural material with excellent potential for human nutrition and health, but it is difficult to process and deliver in a stable, efficacious form and presents potential safety risks when processed improperly, according to Rudi E. Moerck, president and CEO of Valensa.

“Processing chia is inherently difficult, since chia seed cannot be conventionally washed and cleaned," Moerck said. “When you introduce chia seeds to water, they form a mucilaginous complex. So, when companies use raw or even milled chia seeds, they run the risk of delivering a contaminated end product, which is what we are hearing about in the news lately."

Moerck also said Valensa solved these issues by monitoring chia seed raw materials with its proprietary milling and supercritical CO2 extraction processes. This allows for oxygen-free processing, offering a more stable final product.

Beyond safety considerations, approaches to processing chia result in dramatically different end product potentials. Studies have shown that unground raw chia seeds have essentially zero nutritional value. Processing methods that unlock the nutritional benefits of chia seeds include milled or expeller pressed seeds, as well as Valensa’s patented supercritical CO2 extraction.

According to Moerck, the use of milled or expeller-pressed chia seeds is problematic because producers of milled seeds often add “expeller cake" that has deposits of surface oil that rapidly goes rancid. Oils based on this process also tend to become rancid more easily and have a short shelf life. Valensa supercritical CO2 extraction and its stabilization technology produces chia oil that has an unprecedented shelf life of two years.

According to Moerck, companies looking to take advantage of the chia boom need to be cautious in the types of chia ingredients they select for their branded products.

“We are gratified to see that consumers are increasingly interested in the health potentials represented by chia," he said. “It is an amazing natural ingredient. But with growing interest comes a heightened responsibility to deliver safe chia products that also deliver on nutritional potential. Shortcuts in material selection and processing jeopardize not only the potential of this ingredient in the marketplace - it can have significant safety consequences for the people we aim to serve."

Valensa has also recently debuted its supercritical CO2 perilla seed extract line, which includes Verilla™ Perilla Seed Extract and VerillaMax™ Perilla Seed Flour.

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