Franklinton, North Carolina (June 20, 2005) - The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will present the Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM)/Novozymes team with a 2005 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award for applying enzymes to develop healthier fats and oils for use in applications such as margarine, baking and confectionery.
Thomas Nagy, President of Novozymes North America, will accept the award at a ceremony to be held today at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington. This is the second Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award presented directly to Novozymes in the past four years. Novozymes has also been a partner in one additional award during that same period.
According to Hans Christian Holm of the Novozymes Oils & Fats team, Danish legislation banning trans fatty acids from food products and impending changes in the US Nutritional Labeling and Education Act that will require the labelling of trans fats on all nutritional fact panels in the USA by January 1, 2006 have food manufacturers looking for solutions to reduce the amount of trans fats in their products.
"Novozymes is seeing huge global interest in our enzymatic interesterification process for the production of margarines and shortenings that are free of trans fatty acids," adds Hans Christian Holm.
To that end, the ADM/Novozymes award-winning innovation uses an enzyme - Lipozyme® TL IM - as an alternative to conventional chemical hydrogenation, which produces large amounts of trans fats. The bio-based method reduces the environmental impact of margarine production while delivering a healthier oil for human consumption that is free of trans fatty acids.
"It is a great honour and motivation to receive this year's Green Chemistry Award. It ushers in a new era for Novozymes and for the world at large in which we are starting to use biotechnology for more sophisticated applications with wide-ranging impacts such as healthier foods. It also underlines our company's commitment to use biological solutions to create the necessary balance between better business, cleaner environment and better lives," says Thomas Nagy.
The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards Program is an opportunity for individuals, groups and organisations to compete for annual awards in recognition of innovations in cleaner, cheaper and smarter chemistry. The programme provides national recognition for outstanding chemical technologies that incorporate the principles of green chemistry into chemical design, manufacture and use and that have been or can be utilised by industry to achieve their pollution prevention goals.
Human health benefits
Trans fatty acids can lead to increased serum levels of LDL cholesterol or 'bad' cholesterol. When too much 'bad' cholesterol circulates in the blood, it can slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain, resulting in atherosclerosis. Trans fatty acids can also lead to decreased levels of HDL or 'good' cholesterol because a high level seems to protect against heart attack. The presence of high LDL and low HDL levels in the blood stream is a strong indicator of heart disease.
Replacing partially hydrogenated oils with interesterified products can have a huge positive impact on American public health by reducing trans fatty acids and increasing polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in the American diet. The FDA has previously estimated that listing trans fat on food labels would save between 2,000 and 5,600 lives per year as people choose healthier foods or manufacturers improve their recipes to eliminate trans fat. Enzymatic interesterification helps food processors to avoid formation of trans fatty acids.
Another benefit of the process is the increase in PUFAs in the human diet. Originally, shortenings were made from animal fats such as lard and tallow. Switching from butter and original shortenings to partially hydrogenated oil (a product of chemical processes) reduces saturates and cholesterol in the human diet. However, it also reduces in the human diet the amount of PUFAs, which are naturally rich in liquid vegetable oils.
Various foods made from enzymatically interesterified oils are a good source of PUFAs, which are essential nutrients that are currently limited in the American diet.
One of the unique benefits of this process is that it does not require the use of sodium methoxide, a highly flammable and reactive chemical. Instead, the enzymatic interesterification process uses no harsh chemicals. Furthermore, the process generates no wastewater or solid waste and reduces the loss of edible oils. Oils are processed under milder conditions so that nutrients in oil are better preserved.
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