Supercritical fluids for extraction of flavors and fragrances from natural products

The past decade saw the emergence of several noteworthy trends: enhanced consumer concern for the quality and safety of foods; more stringent government regulations on solvents and allowable residues; and increasing energy costs. In the future, issues such as these will significantly affect the future of many technology-oriented processes, including natural flavor and fragrance extraction.

In view of these influences, processors must be aware of both the positive and negative attributes inherent in the extraction of natural products. On one hand, the present popular belief that "everything 'natural' is good" provides positive incentive towards growth. "Mother Nature" is considered a marvelous synthesizer of desirable flavors and fragrances. The subtle nuances and characteristic notes possessed by natural extracts have not yet been equalled by synthetic materials, althought significant strides have been made in the compounding of synthetic chemicals. On the other hand, the dual issues of increased government regulation and higher energy costs create a negative environment for growth. Solvent extraction and solvent distillation are common process operations in the production of natural flavors and fragrances, and both are influenced to some extent by the previously mentioned issues.

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