Natraceutical, the fast-growing Spanish functional-foods concern, said Tuesday (18 July) that it has patented a food sterilisation technology based on carbon dioxide (Co2).

Valencia-based Natraceutical said the technology uses Co2 in a supercritical (liquid) state to strip out microorganisms from food while retaining its nutritional qualities. The process allows raw materials of a high fat content to be sterilised and degreased in the same transaction, saving sterilisation costs, the company noted.

Natraceutical said the method (its fifth patent this year) also enables food to be sterilised without high temperatures, preserving the properties of heat-sensitive compounds.With this new system, "heat sensitive molecules such as antioxidants, can be maintained in optimal conditions from the raw state to the final ingredient, ensuring that they benefit the organism," Natraceutical's Chief Executive Honorato Monzo said in a statement.

Natracuetical said it is already applying the technology to its cacao-derived products and is studying its use in other raw materials.

Natraceutical, which makes purified caffeine and a range of functional compounds, expects revenues to more than double to EUR100m (US$126.48m)this year, boosted by recent acquisitions and expansion efforts.