Edible Oils And Fatty Acids

There is intense interest in the extraction and fractionation by SC C02 of vegetable, animal, and seed oils used for human consumption. In conventional extraction, hexane residue in the material leftover from extraction is routinely detected in ppm levels. Concerns about possible carcinogenicity, hazards, and cost associated with hexane have prompted researchers to develop alternative methods. To design a SCFE system, two types of information are necessary: equilibrium distribution of the oil between the SC phase and the plant matrix, and mass-transfer rate of the oil from the oil source to the solvent. Soybean oil, canola seed oil, palm oil, wheat germ oil, mustard oil, corn oil, and cottonseed oil have been extracted with SC C02. The effects of moisture content and particle size of the seeds, C02 flow rate, chamber dimensions, and other factors on the oil yield have been investigated (29). For soybeans, oxidative stability of SC C02 extracted oil was lower than conventional hexane extracts, since phosphatides that are natural antioxidants were not extracted with SC C02. Extraction of freeze-dried phytoplankton by SC C02 at 40°C and between 17 and 32 MPa resulted in an orange-red oil rich in omega-3 fatty acids, without extracting chlorophyll (30). Conventional separation or concentration of fatty acids, which have low vapor pressures and normally high boiling points, requires vacuum distillation at high operating temperatures. Some thermal degradation is unavoidable in this process. In contrast, it has been shown that the separation of fatty acid ethyl esters differing by two carbon atoms is possible by using SC C02 under mild conditions (31). Cholesterol is readily soluble in SC C02. There are intense efforts to remove it from foods from animal origin, without damaging their quality (32). For all of its potential benefits, there are challenges for the food scientist and engineer to implement the SCF technology. The lack of accumulated process and scale-up experience, the existence of many patents in the field, and high capital and maintenance costs are some of these challenges.

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