Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Rice bran, a bye product from the rice milling industry, was considered more as a cattle feed material till its oil was found to be very valuable as an edible fat source with significant nutrition quality. One of the major restraints in utilizing rice bran for oil extraction was its susceptibility to go rancid due to high lipase activity which, if not inactivated as soon as milling, can hydrolyze the oil into free fatty acids. If integrated milling cum oil processing facilities are available there may not be any need to "stabilize" the bran through thermal inactivation of lipase enzyme system. Indian situation is not considered ideal for rice bran oil extraction because of the widely scattered rice mills with low capacity working across the country making it difficult to collect adequate quantity for feeding a reasonably sized solvent extraction plant in time before oil quality starts deteriorating. In countries like Japan rice bran oil is the staple cooking medium and this oil has also made inroads into western markets recently. Against such a background it is intriguing to understand the recent attempts by an industrial conglomerate to extract protein from rice bran for offering as a protein ingredient in formulated foods. Here is a take on this new development.

"Rob van Leen, Chief Innovation Officer at DSM, adds: "While we fully realize that the world will continue to need animal derived proteins, we believe it is important to explore ways of extracting proteins from plant material, and we aim to make a contribution in this area. NutraCea's management team, headed by John Short and Leo Gingras, have restructured their company to focus only on rice bran derived products and rice bran bio-refining. Their proprietary and patented technologies and expertise in the field of rice bran combined with DSM's technology base in bio-based products form the perfect platform to tackle this plant-based protein challenge. This project fits extremely well within our sustainability and innovation focus at DSM." NutraCea's Chief Executive Officer, W. John Short, commented: "This Joint Research and Development Agreement between DSM and NutraCea provides the opportunity for our two companies to join forces in the development and potential commercialization of protein from rice bran targeted to human food and ingredient applications. To feed a growing world population, additional alternative sources of protein will become increasingly important. The intrinsic product characteristics of rice bran -- hypoallergenic, gluten free, full range of amino acids, and easy digestibility leading to high bioavailability -- can serve as a valuable additional protein source for our growing world population. In that context, working together with DSM provides the opportunity for our two companies to take advantage of an underutilized co-product of an existing resource -- rice bran -- obtained from the existing global rice crop as a sustainable and renewable protein source that requires no additional land or water resources. We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with the people at DSM. Their corporate commitment to sustainability and renewability, as reflected in their philosophy and vision of 'people, planet and profit,' are values that we share at NutraCea. We look forward to working with the DSM team."

It is true that rice bran potential world wide is a staggering 30 million tons and no wonder it has attracted attention now as a source of valuable proteins. With a protein content of 12-15% and a PER value of 2-2.5, rice bran protein can be a viable food ingredient in many food preparations in place of costlier counterparts like Casein, Soy protein isolate and others. If commercial considerations pitchfork rice bran as a source of refined cooking oil and protein isolate with 90% plus protein, what is lost will be some of the most valuable health promoting nutrients like tocotrienol, gamma oryzenol, beta sitosterol, constituting about 4.3 % of the oil fraction because these unsaponifiable fractions are lost during normal refining process. There must be a holistic consideration while planning to use rice bran to recover these nutrients also.


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