By Azman Zakaria
Photos oleh Noor Azreen Awang
SERDANG, (UPM): Oil palm is prevalently known as a source for Vitamin E and carotene, but the question is to what extent the content could be processed, then 'reborn' into a simple form that is able to be used in food and other daily use.
Palm oil, or mainly red palm olein, contains Vitamin E known as tocols comprising tocopherols and tocotrienols, as well as carotenoids which are important sources for healthy nutrition.
Red palm oil reportedly contains between 700 to 1,000 ppm of tocols and 500-1,500ppm of carotenes.
However, this content is in liquid form as in oil, subsequently limiting its application and usage. Heated at a high temperature would diminish the content of tocopherols, tocotrienols and carotenoids.
A study conducted by researchers from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) with Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) on red palm oil, has successfully trail blazed the discovery of content process innovation, eventually changing it into powder through microencapsulation method.
A lecturer from Faculty of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, Prof Dr Lai Oi Ming said the research was conducted from end of 2013 and took about one and a half years.
"What is unique about this technology, we could change the form of the vitamin from oil into powder.
"This vitamin could also be used and added when cooking food even at a high temperature. Because it is stable, allowing it to be applied in any food," she said in an interview.
Research was conducted with the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) with both parties have equal contribution to the patent pending inventions. Also involved were Faculty of Food Science and Technology lecturer, Prof Dr Tan Chin Ping; student, Lai Wee Ting; research officer, Dr Voon Phooi Tee; IC Group Head, Dr Lim Wen Huei; and Head of Protein & Food Technology Unit, Dr Miskandar Mat Sahri.
Apart from maintaining its powder form and could be put together in bottles and sachets, Prof Dr Lai said, it is also produced in capsules.
Realising that instant noodles are among the favorite food in many Asian countries, she said, the findings have also been applied to the food which is labelled as Nutra Mee - making it the only instant noodle containing a good antioxidant agent.
Comparing to most instant noodles in the market, Nutra Mee is enriched with Vitamin E that makes it a good source to get tocols and carotenoids.
With striking yellow color that draws attention, it is easily prepared and able to be served hot or cold.
Research results have garnered this innovation a gold medal at the Malaysia Technology Expo (MTE) in February, while the instant noodle won a silver at the International Invention, Innovation & Technology Exhibition 2014 and Bio-innovation Award 2014 – UPM