Saturday, July 13, 2013


Olive oil is one of the most sought after edible oils in the world and this is reflected by the high prevailing prices in the international market. Its value is probably attributed to presence of healthy components in the fruit like Oleic acid, Polyphenols, Chlorophyll and Squalene, all with high antioxidant properties that can help neutralize the oxy radicals generated at the cellular level which are implicated in human diseases like cancer. While in the liquid form Olive oil is consumed as a salad oil, it is also considered a good cooking oil though its high price bar many consumers from using it regularly. Besides the aversion to fat, now being exhibited by the consumer community world over, will always come in the way of expanding its use in liquid form. Arrival of a host of products in powder form based on this oil is providing the consumers with an alternative to consuming in liquid form and reduce the guilty feeling! Powder form of olive oil based products find more varied uses in hundreds of products to provide the nutrition and improve the functionality. Now comes the news that in stead of whole oil powder, it is possible to make a much more healthy powder by using the pomace left over, after olive fruit pressing to recover bulk of the oil for commercial marketing, which is supposed to be much more nutritious in terms of antioxidants, phytochemicals and dietary fiber. Here is a take on this new development. 

An olive processing coproduct, olive powder was one of about two dozen plant extracts, spices, and herbs that the team evaluated for their potential to combat Escherichia coli O157:H7 and to retard formation of heterocyclic amines during cooking of hamburger patties. E. coli O157:H7 is a leading cause of food sickness in the United States and is blamed for more than 73,000 cases of illness annually. In recent years, many E. coli outbreaks have been traced back to ground beef and have led to the introduction of stringent new food safety rules designed to reduce the occurrence of this microbe, and six of its relatives, in meats, poultry, and other foods. Heterocyclic amines are of concern because they can inadvertently be formed when beef patties are cooked to the doneness recommended for helping kill unwanted microbes, such as E. coli. The two amines monitored in the burger experiment, MeIQx and PhIP, are on the National Toxicology Program's roster of possible carcinogens. For the study, high levels of E. coli O157:H7, along with the plant extract, spice, or herb of interest, were added to the ground beef patties. The patties were then cooked on a griddle until the meat's internal temperature reached 114°F, then flipped and cooked another 5 minutes until the internal temperature reached the recommended 160°F. The amine data showed that olive powder reduced MeIQx by about 80 percent and PhIP by 84 percent. Overall, olive powder was the most effective of the plant extracts (olive, apple, and onion powders) that were tested. Friedman notes that followup studies are needed to pinpoint the compounds in olive powder that are responsible for these effects and to determine whether the amount added in the experiments alters the burgers' taste.

Though the above study is more focused on preservation of hamburger patties where olive powder is reported to be very effective in neutralizing dangerous amines generated during cooking besides acting as an effective antibiotic against the much dreaded virulent E.coli in these products. It must be noted that virulent E.coli, several in number, are proving to be a major hazard in western countries, found in many products claiming precious lives. Therefore this finding, if confirmed, may be truly remarkable in fighting against such food borne infections. What remains unanswered is the identity of the chemical entities that were responsible for the beneficial effects of olive powder. Also uncertain is whether this powder will be equally effective in other food products also. More over addition of olive powder can modify the taste of the products in which it is incorporated depending on the levels required to be used for optimum performance. The trillion dollar palm oil industry in Asia is expected to be benefited if such value added products emerge from the shop floors of their palm fruit milling facilities.   


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