Using a supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) process to encapsulate lycopene could lead to greater stability and offer important advantages over the conventional method of encapsulation.
"The supercritical fluid approach offers numerous advantages such as the possibility of performing the extraction, fractionation and encapsulation of lycopene from tomato in one step, shortening notably the overall procedure time and minimizing the sample handling," wrote lead author Gracia Patricia Blanch from the Spain's Institute of Industrial Fermentations - CSIC.
The research taps into an ever-growing trend for food manufacturers to use microencapsulation technologies as a way of achieving much-needed differentiation and enhancing product value. Tapping into key and emerging consumer trends with innovative techniques is becoming increasingly important for food manufacturers.
Microcapsules are tiny particles that contain an active agent or core material surrounded by a shell or coating, and are now increasingly being used in food ingredients preparation.
The new research, published in the journal Food Chemistry, looks at the potential of a supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) process for stabilizing all-trans-lycopene from tomato encapsulated using alpha, beta, and gamma-cyclodextrins (CDs).
Lycopene from tomatoes was approved for use in foods as a colouring in 1997. This has meant that the ingredient can be listed on labels as E1161D, but that companies have not been able to flag up 'contains lycopene' to draw attention to its health benefits. Lycopene has been the subject of much recent research, including its potential to reduce risk of certain cancers and heart disease.
The researchers report an optimised procedure using ratios of CD/lycopene of 1/0.0026, 1/0.005 and 1/0.05. The supercritical fluid extraction process produced all-trans-lycopene with a purity around 90-95 per cent.
The best complexation yields (93.8 per cent) was obtained using the ratio of CD/lycopene of 1/0.0026, and beta-CD was found to be most favorable to stabilise lycopene, they said. Indeed, complexation with beta-CD remained stable for more than six months, they added.
Despite higher encapsulation yields being observed for the conventional method of encapsulation, but the advantages of the supercritical method may make this technique an interesting new avenue of research for the nutraceutical and functional food industry.
"It could be highlighted the fact that the extraction, fractionation and encapsulation is accomplished in just one step, which shortens substantially the overall procedure (3 h vs. 20 h corresponding to the conventional method)," concluded the researchers.
"The use of supercritical fluids in foods is highly recommended as it avoids the employment of large amounts of organic solvents."
Changing consumer trends and tastes are primarily responsible for driving innovation in the microencapsulation market, says market analyst Frost & Sullivan. Since food manufacturers constantly monitor such trends, food ingredients companies are always looking for ways to meet these ever-changing demands, thereby promoting the need for novel microencapsulation technologies.
Source: Food Chemistry
Published on-line ahead of print, doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2007.04.060
"Stabilization of all-trans-lycopene from tomato by encapsulation using cyclodextrins"
Authors: Gracia Patricia Blanch, María Luisa Ruiz del Castillo, María del Mar Caja, Mercedes Pérez-Méndez and Santiago Sánchez-Cortés