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3 Decades of Naturals Research in F&F

Posted: October 30, 2007

This year’s recipient of the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association Excellence in Flavor Science Award was Regula Näf, who spent 29 years at Firmenich before she retired in 2005.

During her acceptance speech, Näf graciously thanked her many eminent colleagues and outlined how the analysis of natural products has furthered—and will continue to further—the F&F industry. Näf spent her career discovering new compounds, identifying missing notes, improving compounds’ performance in applications and identifying substances in natural materials in order to clear them for use in nature-identical flavors. Some highlights:

In 1974, Näf participated in a publication outlining 68 new compounds—including theaspiranes, methyl dihydrojasmonate and alpha-damascone—discovered during an extraction and analysis of brewed black tea.

In 1995, Näf and her colleagues published a paper looking into agarwood oil, which she described as the “most beautiful perfume … sweet, balsamic, woody, reminiscent of incense.”

In 2001, Näf and Alain Velluz worked on a paper identifying trace (but potent) aldehydes in mandarin and tangerine peel extracts, including (2E,4E,7Z)-2,4,7-decatrienal, (2E,4Z,7Z)-2,4,7-decatrienal and (Z)-4-dodecenal. The aldehydes have proven valuable in flavor compositions in combination with orange essence oil.