Offering the spectrum of EFAs
If nature has created an essential fatty acid, Bioriginal Food & Science Corp is pretty much sure to have it. The Canadian company is the world's leading supplier of EFAs, including fish, flax, borage (starflower), evening primrose, black currant, perilla, and conjugated linoleic acid — not to mention flax concentrates and functional-foods ingredients.
"Our delivery systems range from standard EFA oils to softgels to dry ingredients to finished packaged products," says Manny Sabares, global marketing director. "Beyond the standard oil or milled seed formats, we also have the capability to supply highly concentrated EFA oils and water-soluble EFA powders."
The company's ingredients are found around the world, in nutraceuticals, functional foods, skincare products, cosmetics, animal feed, veterinary products and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. Its distribution network spans six continents, with facilities in Canada, the United States, Europe and China.
Among its more recent launches is an exclusively sourced premium fish oil sold under the name BioPureDHA. "Isolated waters, an exclusive fish supply and proprietary cold-extraction technology ensure a rich DHA oil with minimal contaminants," explains Adrian Hughes, technical director. "Our mild processing further maximises purity to produce a bland, deodorised fish oil, while still preserving its natural triglyceride structure and high DHA content."
In addition to these controls, Bioriginal guarantees that the ingredient meets or exceeds international standards and Council for Responsible Nutrition recommendations by subjecting every batch to third-party testing.
BioPureDHA typically offers 25 per cent DHA and can be included in custom EFA solutions from concept to shelf.
Bioriginal was established in 1993, through an amalgamation of Vitality Health and Science Corp and PGE Canada Ltd. Vitality Health was formed by the government of Saskatchewan in the late 1980s to bring industry and government agencies together to pursue opportunities in the health food industry. PGE Canada Ltd was a privately held company formed in 1986.
The company has won numerous awards over the years including ABEX (Achievement in Business Excellence) awards for Business of the Year and Canadian Innovation Leader.
World leader in omega-3s fortification
The Norwegian company Denomega Nutritional Oils began processing marine oils back in 1912. Back then, marine oils were considered healthy products, but the true health benefits of omega-3s were not fully understood. Once scientific research began to confirm their benefits, Denomega was uniquely positioned to jump into the omega-3s marketplace.
"We have several generations of experience in refining and using healthy oils," explains Jan Haakonsen, vice president of sales and marketing. "In the mid-1990s, we began developing fish oils without taste or odour, which could be used as food ingredients. Today, our success is apparent as no other omega-3s company has its ingredient in more commercial food products on the global market than we do. Denomega is inside about 100 products in more than 20 countries. We recently introduced an omega-3 oil that can be used in organic products, which will enable us to support that growing segment of the market."
What makes the company stand out among its competitors is its unwavering commitment to quality, Haakonsen says. Whereas many of its competitors predominantly source from South American fisheries and oil-extraction plants, Denomega sources its food ingredients only from Norway. The oil is extracted within hours of the fish being harvested.
Because it is starting with such pure oil, the company is able to focus its refining techniques on issues of taste and stability, rather than on processing out unwanted components of the oil, Haakonsen says. It then adds a targeted blend of natural antioxidants optimized for the client's specific market application.
In response to concerns about overfishing, Haakonsen says, "It is stated explicitly in our company's Safety, Health and Environment policy that we only use marine ingredients from sustainable stocks of marine species. Denomega only buys its raw material from well-established fisheries that are under the supervision of responsible governmental bodies with long traditions of resource management."
Denomega oversees worldwide distribution from its offices in North America, Europe and Asia. Its North American market, managed out of Colorado, is its largest, but has not yet achieved the rate of growth seen in Europe. However, that is expected to change in 2008.
Makers of condition-specific formulas
Headquartered in Aalesund, Norway, EPAX AS has been manufacturing omega-3 EPA/DHA fatty acids for 150 years.
Its facility, located on the west coast of Norway, holds both GMP and HACCAP certifications. The company also complies with the Council for Responsible Nutrition's Voluntary Monograph and PhEur, the European Pharmaceutical Pharmacopeia.
"Our unique purification process does such an effective job removing the pollutants, we have set our own standard in purity — much higher than requested or set by both the industry and authorities," explains Baldur Hjaltason, EPAX sales manager for North America, Japan and China.
EPAX focuses on making highly concentrated omega-3 oils with different ratios of EPA and DHA, targeting specific health conditions. In addition, all of its products are supported by human clinical work. Specific formulas include those for cardiovascular, mood and mind, joint, pre- and postnatal, weight-management, and cognitive health. Available as triglycerides or ethyl esters, the formulas are designed with various EPA/DHA ratios and concentrations that are the result of years of clinical research, testing and validation.
The company sources its fish stock through Austevoll Seafood ASA, which owns several fish-meal and oil plants in Peru and Chile. "This ensures a high-quality raw material for our products," Hjaltason says.
EPAX's refining process treats the oil extremely gently, which leads to low values on oxidation numbers, as well as parameters such as trans fatty acids and isomers, which can be formed due to rough treatment during processing, Hjaltason explains.
Sales in the US are handled through Pharmline. The company also has sales agents in Japan, Germany, Canada, France, Thailand, South Korea and Australia.
The company is committed to environmental protection. "EPAX only sources fish oil made from pelagic fisheries that are rated by FAO as sustainable," Hjaltason says. "It is now in a unique position to be able to source directly from the oil plants and keep a traceability of the oil from the time the fish is caught until the oil is drummed for sale." It has even turned to the Peruvian government, which traces the fishing fleet through satellites and has inspectors at the landing port to check the amount and content of the catch that goes into meal and oil production. "This guarantees that all the catches are monitored and in-line with sustainable fisheries," Hjaltason says.
Martek: harnessing the power of algae
To some consumers, the term ?healthy oils' is synonymous with fish oils, but the fact is docosahexaenoic acid is originally found in algae — and this algae is actually the source of DHA in fish.
"Algal oil-derived DHA is a vegetarian and sustainable source of DHA that confers the same benefits as the DHA found in fish and fish oil — without risk of oceanic contaminants," says Jeff Bernfeld, director of marketing and commercial strategy at Martek Biosciences Corp. This is one reason it is found in so many infant formulas in the US, with Martek claiming more than 90 per cent of the market share.
Martek has developed and patented two fermentable strains of microalgae that produce oils rich in DHA. A similar patented process was developed for a fungus that produces an oil rich in arachidonic acid, ARA. Both DHA and ARA are important nutrients for optimal infant development, while DHA has health benefits that extend throughout life, Bernfeld explains.
Martek's algal DHA, known as life'sDHA, is the only DHA source currently being used in a National Institutes of Health-funded study on the effects of DHA on Alzheimer's disease. A study published in the April issue of the Journal of Neuroscience found that life'sDHA slows the development of two brain lesions that are hallmarks of the disease. The pre-clinical study on mice is among the first to prove that DHA may help delay the onset of Alzheimer's. Other published research has documented the benefits of Martek's DHA on other health conditions, including its ability to reduce the level of triglycerides in male hypertriglyceridaemic patients. That study appeared in a fall 2007 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
More than 100 foods, beverages and dietary supplements contain life'sDHA, including such well-known American products as Silk soy milk and Horizon organic milk, Yoplait Kids yoghurt by General Mills, and Breyers Smart! yoghurt by Healthy Food Holdings. In Europe, leading brands such as Danonino Petit Genio drinkable yoghurt in Spain, Via Biona chocolate in Germany, Sprintissomo drinkable yoghurt in Italy and Dalco Foods' Wellness Hamburger in the Netherlands contain the ingredient.
In addition, Martek's DHA and ARA oils are available in infant formulas and follow-on formulas in more than 65 countries.
life'sDHA remains stable when subject to a wide range of thermal processing, and is sold as an oil or microencapsulated powder.
North America's flaxseed leader
Since its beginning in 1991, Pizzey's Nutritionals has been focused on flax. What began as a family farming operation has today evolved into the largest North American speciality-flaxseed ingredients supplier.
The company is headquartered in Angusville, Canada, and has a sales facility in Illinois. Distribution reaches throughout the Americas and into Europe and Asia.
The company experienced a major milestone three months ago when it was purchased by Glanbia, a dairy-foods and nutritional-ingredients group.
This year, Pizzey's paved new ground with the launch of an ingredients line that combines the health benefits of flaxseeds (omega-3 fats, lignans, antioxidants and fibre) with the EPA and DHA of fish oils. Sold under the MeadowPureO3 brand, the ingredients have proven to be superior to straight fish oils for food fortification, Pizzey's explains.
"It is well accepted that while foods prepared with EPA and DHA are healthier, they also have an increased vulnerability to rancidity caused by the oxidation of lipids," explains company co-founder Linda Pizzey. "Such breakdown leads to food deterioration affecting flavour, aroma, colour, texture and nutritional value."
MeadowPureO3Ultra is shelf stable, with no taste or smell, and is easily incorporated into dry formulations. A granulated, free-flowing powder, it contains milled flax in combination with either 2.2 per cent or eight per cent fish oil. It has already been added to breads, cereals, muffins and breakfast bars.
When used at various levels, omega-3 label claims can be used on food packaging including 'Qualified Heart Health' for EPA and DHA, 'Excellent Source' for all omega 3s, and a 'Structure/Function' claim for ALA.
The ingredient is the result of many years of testing. In a number of experiments, the lipid stability of the blend was maintained for at least one year under ambient storage conditions in standard polylined paper packaging.
"The stability tests were further confirmed by comparative taste studies, using a tasting panel that rated the sensory profile of muffins made with the flax/fish-oil blends and stored for 28 months," Pizzey says. "It was found to be superior to that of a control muffin mix that did not include any fish oil."
Powder-loc power from Ocean Nutrition Canada
Based in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, fish-oil supplier Ocean Nutrition Canada (ONC) has 27 different food applications in the global marketplace. Some of the food products containing its MEG-3 brand of EPA/DHA ingredient include dairy products; refrigerated as well as ambient juices; baked beans; peanut butter; chocolate; and baked goods, including bread, pizza, bagels, muffins, biscuits and chips.
ONC has been in business since 1997, but 2007 has been a particularly successful year for the company, thanks in part to its patented Powder-loc microencapsulation technology.
"Powder-loc utilises patented double-shell protection, producing a free-flowing, dry powder with a unique molecular construction that locks in the health benefits of omega-3s and locks out even the slightest hint of fishiness," explains Lori Covert, vice president of marketing and communications at ONC. "MEG-3 is the only food ingredient to deliver all the health benefits of omega-3s with absolutely zero impact on the taste, the smell or the texture of the food product."
Manufacturers are clearly pleased with the ingredient. This year, a number of major companies began incorporating the MEG-3 ingredient into their consumer products, including Tropicana (orange juice), Danone (yoghurt), and Unilever (margarine).?On the dietary supplements side, Dr Weil and Natrol both launched supplements containing MEG-3.
In 1997, the company had four employees. Today, it has more than 300, including 30 researchers and 11 PhDs. It has the largest privately owned marine research and development facility in North America.
ONC runs a microencapsulation facility in Arcadia, Wisconsin, and has a client base spread across North America, Asia, Europe and Australia. Due to demand in Australia, a new office was opened there. The company has also begun building another production facility in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
"This new facility will allow us to continue to meet the growing needs of our existing customers as well as those of our new customers," Covert says.