Stay fresh: Citramed has created a natural preservative by squeezing all the antibacterial properties found in the rind of citrus fruit.Parabens are making headlines in the US these days, and the FDA is now investigating a number of inquiries about the synthetic preservatives used widely in the cosmetics industry. Parabens ensure that your creams, underarm deodorant, body sprays, shampoos and toothpaste don’t rot before you get around to using them.

The problem is that parabens (or alkyl esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid) have been linked to a number of health concerns, cancer being one of them. Samples of women’s breast cancer tissue from the UK, have been found to be loaded with parabens, which may be acting as a hormone mimic before leading to cancer.

Thanks to the Israeli company Citramed, there may be a natural and non-toxic way to keep your beauty and health products fresh, healthy and paraben-free – using nature’s wisdom and grapefruit peel.

Citramed has developed a method to squeeze all the antibacterial properties found in the rind of citrus fruit and apply it as a preservative, in not only health products but as a natural preservative in the food industry as well. The company has filed a patent for more than 80 possible uses.

Applications are based on the company’s active ingredient “CPE,” which has been found to protect humans, animals and plants against a wide variety of bacteria, fungi and yeast.

Lior Rosental, the outgoing CEO of Citramed who handed the reigns over to Eli Levy two weeks ago, talks with ISRAEL21c about the company he helped grow for the past three years.

“Ninety-four percent of the cosmetic preservatives are parabens,” says Rosental. “They are controversial – academic researchers say they are not so healthy for us. Parabens can cause skin irritation and cancers.”

Nobody likes to use them, Rosental points out, but there is little in the way of alternatives. Now negotiating with top cosmetics companies in the world, theoretically Citramed’s product could be ready by the end of the year.

The company has proven its extract can be developed for commercial purposes on an industrial scale, and hopes to first apply its compound immediately in both the cosmetics and food industry.

Rosental explains that the citrus peel has a natural defense mechanism that protects its fruit against microorganism attack. Using a simple water-based process, Citramed found a way to enhance the citrus peel’s effectiveness. “The technology copies the natural process,” says Rosental. “As far as we know there are no natural preservatives available worldwide,” he adds.

Despite claims, organic and natural cosmetics sold in the United States have been found to be much less health-friendly than people realize. Reports published by the Organic Consumer’s Association in the US detail shocking amounts of non-natural compounds added to products labeled “organic,” and the health dangers such additions pose.

Hopefully Citramed will be able to help these companies become what they are claiming, and make products used and consumed by Americans every day safer.

Founded in 2003, out of the Ashkelon Technological Industries incubator, with research entrepreneurs Uzi Affek and Janette Orenstein from the Volcani Center in Israel, Citramed is now based in Kibbutz Gat close to Kiriat Gat.

The company’s product joins a list of Israeli-made natural extracts that work to improve health for people everywhere. There is Lycomato’s tomato-based additive to protect against sunburn naturally (from within), and Tel Aviv University’s Prof. Michael Ovadia whose cinnamon extract invention works as a natural anti-viral.

Rosental agrees that Israel is a big achiever in this area: “Every time I speak with a delegation at a conference they say Israel is a leader.”