The patent awarded to Ardsley, New York-based American Moxie LLC, describes a method of infusing an edible fresh or freshly-cut fruit or vegetable with an active agent, such as a pharmaceutical, nutritional agent or some other factor.
The idea for the process came from the use of infusion solutions, including those based on calcium ions, as a means to help preserve fresh fruit and vegetables. These are introduced under pressure into the skin of apples, for example, to prevent microbial degradation and extend shelf life.
The patent notes that one application of the process could be to improve compliance with medication, particularly for children, and mask the taste of some compounds. Drugs for young children are often suspended in a liquid base to make it easier to take and mask the flavour. Asking the child to eat an apple could be an easier option.
"Numerous other pharmaceutical agents, both prescription and over-the-counter, may be infused according to the present invention so long as the agent is capable of being suspended in an aqueous liquid without damaging its pharmaceutical properties," according to the patent.
Another application could be to infuse the fruit or vegetables with vitamins in order to improve their nutritional profile.
The method described in the patent is as follows. First, the fruit or vegetable is allowed to reach a state of relative metabolic stasis by storing it for a set period of time, as active metabolism could lead to the breakdown of the active after infusion. The outside surface of the fruit or vegetable is disinfected, and then an bath comprising the infusion agent and a surfactant is used to submerge the fruit. Finally, the infusion bath is pressurised for a period between a few second or and hour to accelerate the infusion of the compound.
Studies have demonstrated that introduced drugs and drug-like agents can maintain their pharmacological activity during their residence in the fruit.