Italian government backs olive extract supplier

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Stefano Germani
Stefano Germani

Related tags Olive oil Cardiovascular disease Efsa

A former Italian government research project has been spun off into a start-up company specialising in naturally extracted olive oil extracts, as competition heats up in the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)-approved cardiovascular benefitting category.

At the recent NUCE trade show in Milan there were several olive oil extract suppliers – some established suppliers with broad portfolios, others specialising purely in olive oil extracts and looking to benefit from the rare EFSA botanical positive opinion.

The latest entrant into the market is Phenofarm which is sourcing Italian olive oil milling by-products like waste wasters and olive pomace from an 18,000 hectare plantation in Sabina, just north of Rome. Its patented process is solvent-free, a fact that led to it benefitting from an Italian government programme backing green innovation, although solvent-free status is not exclusive to it.

The programme assists Phenopharm market itself internationally in places like China and Russia.

“Only locally and traceable olives are used,”​ managing director Stefano Germani told NutraIngredients. “We just got back from B2B meetings in China organised under the programme and they were very productive.”

The market is populated by the likes of fellow Italian supplier Indena, US supplier Creagri and Spanish supplier Genosa, and the article 13 heart health claim opinion from EFSA that found a daily minimum intake of 5mg of olive polyphenols (hydroxytyrosol) could protect LDL (low-density lipoprotein) particles from oxidative damage features heavily in the companies’ marketing materials.

That EFSA opinion can be found here.

“Scientific research (approved by EFSA) confirms that supplementation with olive polyphenols Phenolea [its branded version] have important biological properties for cardio-protection,”​ the company states.

“EFSA just in April, addresses an opinion substantiating the health claims in relation to consumption of the olive polyphenols and the protection of LDL cholesterol particles from oxidative damage which is responsible for cell damage and cardiovascular disease. Olive polyphenols are now included in a short list of elements which for which a healthy claim is permitted by EFSA.”

Phenopharm also has a skin care ingredient called PhenoleaSkinCare that is a similarly derived olive extract.

Olive halo

The healthy halo associated with the Mediterranean diet is also referenced in the marketing materials along with selected trials backing the heart health effects approved by EFSA’s health claims panel this year.

It highlighted one study published in the July 2010 issue of the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology​ that found olive oil could alter genes to benefit heart health.

The company said it was aiming at both foods and food supplements, along with nutricosmetic products. In foods it said the ingredient had the duel role of an antioxidant with heart health benefits as well as a food preservative.

The extract is suitable for edible oils, fats, beef, sausages and bakery and Germani said a large Italian bakery was set to launch a range of products by year’s end.

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