FDA Puts Jatropha on Notice

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in July that oils, glycerin, and proteins derived from the Jatropha plant that are commonly used in the production of human and animal food, medical products, cosmetics, and other FDA-regulated products may contain toxins.

“When vegetable oils and animal fats are used in biodiesel fuel production, the co-products include oils, glycerin, and protein,” FDA stated in a notification. “Recently, the Jatropha plant has become an attractive source material for biodiesel fuel because of the high oil content of its seed, availability of the plant in certain parts of the world, and relatively low cost. However, unlike other benign materials used to produce biodiesel fuel, Jatropha plants may contain toxic compounds, including phorbol esters. These compounds exhibit potential toxicity, both acute and chronic, to exposed humans and animals.”

According to FDA, oil extracted from the Jatropha plant contains a portion of the toxic compounds; however, toxic compounds are retained completely in the extracted glycerin and protein co-products. Consequently, the oils, glycerin, and protein derived from Jatropha seeds may contain toxic compounds.

“Even though crude Jatropha extracts have protein levels comparable to soybeans and, therefore, could be an attractive protein source for humans and animals, Jatropha-derived protein may contain these toxic ingredients,” FDA cites in its notice. “Conventional impurity test methods may not detect the presence of these toxins.” At this time, FDA is unaware of any intentional substitution or contamination in FDA-regulated finished products or components derived from the Jatropha plant. However, given the significant overlap among the supply chains of FDA-regulated products, the agency is advising affected industries to be aware of the potential for substitution or use of oils, glycerin, and proteins derived from the Jatropha plant.

August 2012 RENDER | back