A Comparison of AEA Certified Emu Oil to Molecularly Distilled Emu Oil
In 2001, the American Emu Association worked with the American Oil Chemist Society experts to implement trade rules and a certification program. The certification program would assure the consumer and product manufacturers that they would be receiving a safe, stable and unadulterated product. The trade rules were modeled after other edible oil industries.
There are several techniques of refining commonly used in the fats and oils industry to create a finished product. The fats and oils industry processes edible and cosmetic oils by two methods: chemical refining and physical refining. Chemical refining uses a three-step process: refining, bleaching and deodorization. The chemical refining step uses a chemical to neutralize free fatty acids. Physical refining uses a two-step method, bleaching and deodorization. If emu fat is properly handled, crude emu oil will have a low free fatty acid so chemical refining is not necessary. The bleaching process uses clays and absorbents that remove metals, proteins, polymers and other organic impurities. The deodorization process removes hormones, pesticides, oxidation matter and other impurities.
One concern with the physical refining method is that deodorization at high temperatures could damage the active ingredients of emu oil. This concern was dismissed in a study conducted in 2001 by the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. The conclusion of the study showed that physical refining increased the anti-inflammatory effect of emu oil. This was due to the removal of minor, pro-inflammatory components.1
Another process sometimes used on emu oil is molecular distillation. This process claims to remove components that are not normally removed by typical refining. The molecular distillation process is carried out under vacuum, in which the pressure is so low that no intermolecular collisions can occur before condensation. In short, molecular distillation is used to remove different molecular weight components. A typical application is to break apart fatty acids subcomponents like DHA and EPA from Omega-3 and also to remove mercury from fish oils.
Proponents of molecular distillation claim they have separated impurities from AEA Certified Emu Oil™ using the molecular process. Refined emu oil that meets the criteria for AEA certification already has impurities removed. The criteria to meet certification is: Moisture below 0.05%, Free Fatty Acids below 0.1%, and Peroxide Value below 2. The trade rules also set a standardized range of fatty acids located in the fatty acid composite profile. The fatty acid profile is the finger print of an oil. By creating a range that emu oil must fall under, it verifies that the oil is emu oil and no adulteration has occurred. If AEA Certified Emu Oil™ is run through a molecular distillation process and components are removed, the conclusion would be that the molecular distillation process is actually separating fatty acids and antioxidants that stabilize the oil. Below, we have provided a Certificate of Analysis by an independent AOCS lab of molecularly distilled oil compared to AEA Certified Emu Oil™.
A sample of the Molecularly Distilled Emu Oil:
A sample of AEA Certified Emu Oil™:
The molecular distillation processed emu oil is not within acceptable ranges as an emu oil certified by the AEA. The yellow highlighted areas in the above table show the out of range values. The AEA Certified Emu Oil™ is at an acceptable level in all values.
Key point is that some of the fatty acids are out of range in the molecularly distilled emu oil. The AEA put in place minimum and maximum fatty acid standards because it was found that a large amount of non-AEA Certified emu oil on the market place was adulterated.2 For example, if the C16:0 was above 25% and 16:1 above 5.5%, this is a good indication that the sample has at least a percentage of other animal fats, like ostrich oil or chicken oil. If the values for C16:0 were below 18.5% and C16:1 below 2.5%, then the sample would be suspected to have a percentage of vegetable oil.
Another key point is that the OSI value of 0.20 hours of the molecularly distilled emu oil is below the AEA trade rules specification of greater than 6 hours. The Oil Stability Index gives an indication of how stable the product is. The AEA Certified Emu Oil™ has a value of 36.60 hours. An independent shelf life study showed that emu oil with an OSI of 25 hours had a shelf life of at least three years. Molecularly distilled emu oil with an OSI of 0.20 hours, has no shelf life.3
Another marketing point of molecular distillation is that its processes remove metals, whereas AEA Certified Emu Oil™ does not. Below is a typical result of an AEA Certified Emu Oil™ metal test. As can be seen, no additional processing is needed because properly processed emu oil will not have metals present. A good indication of metals being present would be a low OSI value.
By comparing the different processes, AEA Certified Emu Oil™ would be the acceptable oil for dietary supplements and cosmetic applications, where molecularly distilled oil would be unacceptable.
In addition, looking at the typical AEA Certified Emu Oil™ metals test, an AEA Certified Emu Oil™ does not need any additional processing.
1Robert Nicolosi (presenter), Subbiah Yoganathan, Thomas Wilson, Hajime Sasaki, Frank Orthoefer (contributors), “Biological Activity of Emu Oil”, AOCS Annual Meeting, 2001
2“Are you really buying pure emu oil?, American Emu Association Convention (Kansas City, MO), 2012. http://aea-emu.org/news/aea-study-are-you-really-buying-pure-emu-oil
3Accelerated Stability Study performed by an independent lab.