In a first, CFTRI sends a food item for clinical trial


In what may signal a new approach to verification of the health benefits of food, the Mysuru-based Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) is teaming up with hospitals to conduct “human clinical trials” on an “anti-obesity” cooking oil it has developed. Usually, only new drugs developed internationally but set to be sold in India are subject to such trials.

The objective, officials say, is to test if the oil has side-effects and the extent to which it can help contain obesity.

“We are doing it because we are making a health claim,” said Ram Rajasekharan, Director, CFTRI. The organisation had given a clean chit to Maggi noodles last year, saying the samples it tested conformed to nationally prescribed food regulations — this was cited as evidence by Nestle in the Bombay High Court to resume production of the noodles.

The four organisations involved in the trial, which is set to begin later this year, are JSS Medical College, Mysore Medical College and Research Institute, Adichunchanagiri Institute of Medical Sciences and Manipal University.

The institute says the oil does not promise to make a person thin, but helps the body use the energy from fried food more efficiently.


The oil has been chemically altered; less of it is stored as fat and more burned off to provide energy, compared to conventional cooking oils. Vegetable oils are usually rich in triglycerides, a class of fats that, over the years, has been associated with heart disease and higher chances of stroke. The digestive system breaks them down for energy but it reappears again and is stored in the body as fat. The oil developed by the institute replaces triglycerides with diglycerides — a chemical cousin — that are believed to provide as much energy but is not stored as fat.

“The fatty acid composition of the anti-obesity oil is similar to that of regular vegetable oils. The consumption of DAG oil can help maintain healthy body weight as well as manage obesity and its complications,” said a CFTRI release. “Earlier, Japan-based companies had introduced a DAG oil-based product in the market. It was withdrawn soon for safety reasons.”

Dr. Rajasekharan said using DAGs in cooking oil was related to his work, as a former Professor of Chemistry at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru. Early studies suggested that the oil would not have the problems of toxicity that the Japanese product had faced. “We will have to test all the aspects.”

The CFTRI usually does not market its products on its own but licenses out its technology to private companies.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 7:08:42 AM |

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