June 6 - An EU-funded project in Poland is demonstrating the value of lightless, airless laboratory conditions for processing a particular variety of vegetable oil. Scientists in Lublin say their ''Drop of Health'' oil, derived from rape seed, contains greater health properties than any other vegetable oil and hope it will soon become commercially available. Jim Drury reports.
They are calling it the 'Drop of Health' and these scientists say this salad oil comes with a host of benefits. Rapeseed, or canola, oil has been common in kitchens for decades, but the researchers at Poland's Academy of Sciences say their oil is superior to anything currently on the market, helping to prevent illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and cardiac disease. It all starts with the plant itself says Doctor Tadeusz Rutko, who is responsible for cultivating the best organic seeds. SOUNDBITE (Polish) DR. TADEUSZ RUTKO, INSTITUTE OF AGROPHYSICS OF POLISH ACADEMY OF SCIENCES IN LUBLIN, SAYING: "Not all the varieties of rape are suitable for production of 'Drop of Health' oil. It has to be a group of oils of the Vistive variety with high level of oleic acid and the cultivation of rape has to be done in special conditions. Such a plantation has to be isolated from other varieties of rape and such a plantation has to be protected and cultivated in an ecological way." Rapeseed oil has come under fire in the past for its highly refined processing methods. But in this laboratory, the oil is produced without chemicals, limiting exposure to light and oxygen. Independent oil expert Professor Marian Panasiewicz say this means it's far more stable than other oils; less likely to turn rancid and lose its healing properties. SOUNDBITE (Polish) PROFESSOR MARIAN PANASIEWICZ, UNIVERSITY OF LIVE SCIENCES IN LUBLIN, SAYING: "In the case of "Drop of Health" oil it is, in my opinion, impossible because the technology of production, bottling and storing minimizes all the dangerous factors that all food products are exposed to while storing." But if all this sounds tempting, don't rush off to your supermarket just yet. European Union regulation means it will be at least five years before Drop of Health will be available on the shop shelves.