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I occasionally run across articles questioning the safety of consuming vegetable oils. Authority Nutrition, which is a great website containing informative articles, recently ran one such article. The truth is, every living organism on Earth has some sort of defense mechanism; which for plants is often a toxin or antinutrient. The plant wants to survive just like you do.
Another popular topic you read about “Is canola oil toxic or bad for you? The facts” at Eating Well. The author does a good job discussing how traditional plant breeding has been used to reduce the erucic acid content of modern canola plants. Erucic acid is toxic when consumed at high enough levels and the FDA does not allow more than 2% in canola.
Even though this toxin reduction in canola was accomplished without GMO techniques, modern canola is genetically modified to resist pesticides. However, as the author rightly concludes, you have the option to purchase organic and/or certified NON-GMO.
The author then moves into hexane extraction of oil from canola, and notes that “Canola – like many oils – is extracted using hexane, which is dangerous (it’s flammable).” This poses different concerns – manufacturing with hexane and consuming oil containing hexane.
Most edible oils are isolated using solvents, primarily hexane, because it is a very efficient chemical extraction process that separates oil from everything else, including molecules that impart flavor, and vitamins.
If residual hexane in the isolated oil is concerning, then it’s important I point out (which the author failed to do) that oil can also be extracted using physical means, such as high-shear extrusion followed by mechanical oil pressing. This is a chemical-free, low-waste, extraction process that produces oil that is typically sold as “expeller pressed”.
In conclusion, concerns about the safety of edible oils surface from time to time. Saying that a plant food is “toxic” is very misleading, as all plants have built-in survival mechanisms which often include toxins. When toxins are a concern, high-shear, dry extrusion can be used to reduce toxin levels. Also, if GMO’s or solvents for oil extraction are concerning, NON-GMO crops and alternative processing methods (mechanical oil pressing, or expelling) exist.
In a previous blog Insta-Pro President, Kevin Kacere, discussed the definition of a business partner; conducting business with a company that goes beyond the normal skills and needs of that individual. Over the past many years, I have had the pleasure of developing long term successful partnerships with many of our customers throughout Canada and the US. One question I hear a lot from soy processors is “What is the product and process difference between an extruder and expander?”
An expander is like an extruder but it generates less shear, pressure and temperature in the barrel. Some manufacturers will use the term extrusion as it is the same process as expansion because you are pushing product through a die. However, extrusion creates a shearing force that is a key factor in the deactivation of anti-nutritional factors, microbial sterilization, the release of natural anti-oxidants, and ultimately, an increase in the digestibility of nutrients.
To understand the difference in processes, we partner with multiple universities such as Kansas State University, University of Illinois and Utah State University to conduct research trials. The study below shows full-fat soy fed to chicks. When comparing high shear extrusion vs. expansion, the results show 8% lower amino acid digestibility of the full-fat soy. This is a result of the lower barrel temperature and pressure of the expander.
As a business partner, I have the pleasure of visiting with customers and sharing research information that allows them to optimize their equipment and continue to meet their customers’ protein needs. When I am asked by a customer or prospect to respond to a companies claim that their process is the same as our ExPress® process, I respond by asking if they have seen their animal feed research results and verified that they are not a copy of the research conducted by Insta-Pro 3rd party agreements. If you are able to get their feeding results, compare them with ours. I am confident you will see the high-shear system produces a higher quality product for feeding.