Maize-germ oil is obtained from seedlings from the Zea mays L. (Gramineae) by pressing (cold-pressed maize-germ oil) or by extraction, after which it is refined (refined maize-germ oil).
The cereal, maize, originated between Mexico and Peru, although the wild form has not been identified, since cultivated maize was selected from wild types of maize at a very early stage. Remains of wild forms of maize that had already been turned to domestic use have been found in caves in Southern Mexico and dated at 5000-3400 B.C. Maize plays a part in Indian mythology and religion. Inhabitants of the Caribbean islands called it 'mahiz' and the Spaniards adopted this name when they brought maize to Europe, in 1500. It was regarded with some wonder as something of a novelty, but it was not cultivated in Europe until the 17th century. It spread across Italy, the Balkans and Russia to India and China. Since WW II, this plant, which is actually tropical or sub-tropical, has been cultivated all over the world, although it is used primarily as animal feed in the USA and in all other industrial countries, also as a source of protein (polenta, tortillas, corn, popcorn) and starch (puddings, starch meal, high-quality biscuits, thickening for soups and sauces (cornstarch, Mondamin), cornflakes).
Maize plays a lesser part as an oil-yielding plant, even though maize-germ oil is highly valued in nutritional physiological terms on account of the palmitic acid content and, primarily, of the high oleic and linoleic acid content (there are wide variations from one cultivation area to the next in the linoleic acid content). The oil (seedling oil content of approx. 35%) is obtained as a by-product of the process by means of which maize is transformed into starch; the fruit is first steeped, then the germs are ground coarsely, soaked, separated and washed. The water is then drained off and the product is dried, after which it undergoes pressing or extraction. The crude oil is then refined; cold-pressed maize-germ oil is rarely offered for sale. The clear, light to golden yellow oil, which gives off a faint smell and has a faint taste, is used as an edible oil. In the food industry, maize-germ oil is used in the production of foodstuffs (margarine, mayonnaise, diet products, babyfoods). In the cosmetics industry, maize-germ oil is also used in the production of soaps and hair-care products. Maize-germ oil is also used as a raw material for lubricants and leather-care products in specialist industries.
INCI Name: Zea Mays Germ Oil