Mazza exec says water extraction technology positions company to compete on clean label playing field

By Hank Schultz contact

- Last updated on GMT

Mazza's water extraction process yields a crystalline, ultra pure product, the company says. Mazza Innovations photo.
Mazza's water extraction process yields a crystalline, ultra pure product, the company says. Mazza Innovations photo.

Related tags: Ethanol

Mazza Innovation Ltd has formally opened its commercial-scale processing facility featuring its proprietary water extraction technology branded as PhytoClean.

The technology is featured in the first products the Vancouver, Canada-based company developed, three PhytoClean extracts of cranberry, green tea and blueberry.  Mazza is also seeking to line up extraction customers at its exhibit at this year’s Natural Products Expo West trade show in Anaheim, CA, and is in talks with customers for use of its existing products.

The new 38,000 sq foot facility near Vancouver is producing extracts via the system pioneered by company founder Dr Guiseppe (Joe) Mazza. 

Water extraction is as old as herbalism itself, but has drawbacks in that many compounds of interest are only indifferently soluble, leading to the use of various solvents starting with ethanol. Dr Mazza came up with a process makes use of how water’s properties change in useful ways under heat slightly above 100 degrees Centigrade and pressure to vastly increase its extraction capability. Mazza didn’t discover this property but was the first to see its possibilities in botanical extraction.

Clean label benefits

For company president Benjamin Lightburn, the company’s technology is well positioned to compete on the natural, clean-label playing field he believes will be the future of the industry.

“I think it’s going to the only place where companies will have two feet to stand on. We welcome this transition to more transparency. We don’t have anything to hide. Our ingredients are 100% plant matter and there is nothing else in there,”​ Lightburn told NutraIngredients-USA.

Greater flexibility

In addition to the clean-label benefits, Mazza’s specific water extraction process offers other benefits, Lightburn said. For one thing, there are no solvents of any sort on site, so cross contamination is not an issue, and it made retrofitting the building the company took over simpler because there was no need to deal with explosion risks. Also, the process provides great flexibility in how the raw material comes in.

“Almost any input biomass is acceptable. We don’t necessarily need the input biomass to be ground down to a powder, and in some cases we prefer to extract from whole seeds. If the biomass were 75% moisture that’s not an issue as it would be for ethanolic extraction because we are already extracting with water. We can extract from frozen, from fresh, from dried or from wet. And the process itself provides a kill step for microbes,”​ Lightburn said.

No solvent residues

The process also yields a benign, sterile leftover material that is not contaminated with solvents. This leaves open the possibility that it could be devoted to other uses including potentially as a feed additive.

“The spent biomass remains plant material. It could for example be used as compost for topsoil. Those other uses are something that we are in early days of trying out,”​ Lightburn said.

One criticism of the extraction technique when comparing it to solvent extracts is that a higher temperature is required, potentially degrading active compounds, some of which, like polyphenols, are sensitive to heat. Lightburn said in practice the company’s testing has shown this to be a nonissue.

“For one thing, our extraction time is very short, just a few minutes.  And when we compare our results with those of solvent extractions, we regularly get more than 100% of the bioactives that solvents can extract.  So whatever might be lost to high temperature, we more than make up for with our more efficient extraction,”​ he said.

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