Botanical extracts: New uses or new extraction processes may indicate new ingredients


Burdock Group Consultants, Orlando, Florida, USA


Natural extracts are more than a simple ingredient statement on a label, or the primary component for which the extract may be marketed, such as a citrus flavor note or the characteristic flavor and smell of rosemary from a rosemary extract. Natural botanical extracts are many times composed of hundreds of different individual chemicals, which may have a distinct impact on both the purported action of the extract, as well as the safety profile. This article discusses the many different aspects of natural botanical extracts, the basic composition of different extracts from different extraction processes, and the impact the extraction process may have on the resulting ingredient and the ability to determine the safety of the extract.

Food formulators and food product manufacturers have a wide array of food ingredients available to incorporate into new and unique-tasting food products, due to the general understanding that many of the currently accepted ingredients that meet regulatory approval may be used according to current good manufacturing practice standards. That is, the large majority of food ingredients may be utilized at the minimum level to produce the desired effect, as long as the effect is still within the use for which the ingredient was approved. For example, rosemary oil has been concluded safe under the generally recognized as safe (GRAS) standard in the United States when used as a flavoring ingredient in foods generally. Therefore, as long as the intended use in food is to provide flavor and the concentrations used are similar to industry norms for flavoring ingredients, rosemary oil is approved for that intended use. However, if the use of rosemary oil in foods at concentrations much greater than typically found as a flavoring ingredient and for a use other than for flavoring (such as a preservative), then that use of rosemary oil is no longer “approved”, as the information on which t ...