Dr David Edwards was speaking to NutraIngredients-USA last week after the FDA confirmed it was looking into the product following concerns raised by Senator Charles Schumer about its regulatory status.
The product, which was developed by Massachusetts-based Breathable Foods and introduced to the US market last month, delivers 100mg of caffeine (about the same as a cup of coffee) plus B vitamins over 4-6 puffs and is marketed as a dietary supplement. It retails at around $2.99 a canister - around the same as an energy shot.
'The platform potential is quite large'
While the word ‘breathable’ implies AeroShot can be sniffed, it is in fact puffed into the mouth, not the nose, and does not enter the lungs, but is rather dissolved in the mouth and swallowed, clarified Edwards.
And more products are in the pipeline, both as novel solutions to pill fatigue for supplement users, and as a guilt-free indulgence for consumers with a sweet tooth, added Edwards, who teaches in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard.
"We will over the next year be broadening the mainstream platform, of which the AeroShot is the lead product, to include vitamin, supplements, confections and many other things including products related to oral healthcare.
“The platform potential is quite large. It is also specific as you can imagine. Where the goal is to deliver taste, or flavor, with minimum calories (essentially zero), breathable products are wonderfully useful.”
‘Sensory satisfaction without requiring the caloric uptake’
The format was particularly appealing for consumers watching their weight, he said.
“The delivery spreads a fine powder over the tongue and gives a certain sensory satisfaction without requiring the caloric uptake.
“For chocolate, confection more generally, this is an advantage. The idea of chocolate without the calories was the first resonant wave with the public when I began working on this back in 2008.”
A novel solution to pill fatigue?
For consumers that did not like popping pills, it also had great potential, he added.
“For delivering all the essential vitamins, and many minerals and supplements, without pills, the breathable platform is again very useful.
“We will be furthering the technology to bring the costs down to be competitive with current vitamin and supplement delivery approaches and at that time will be making this line of products much more available to the public."
He added: “For rare products like caviar, there are other really interesting opportunities.”
Dosage: We can put more active ingredients in canisters
AeroShot Energy contains four to six puffs per unit, he said. However, it was possible to include more active ingredients such that the container could last for far longer.
“You can put in more. We will be commercializing over the next year and a half products that provide more material, in some cases much more.”
As to where AeroShot sat in the marketplace, he said it was going head to head with energy shots.
“The AeroShot is priced like an energy shot. It is absolutely in that category and is selling today - and being used today - in that way.
“It delivers the boost of the energy shot without the calories and with significantly greater convenience and portability. As I mentioned, we will be bringing the costs down where it comes to vitamins and confection to be competitive on a dose per dose basis with current products.”
Breathable Foods boss: Co-operating fully with FDA
Unlike energy drinks that can be easily mixed with alcohol, AeroShot is not designed to have its contents poured into alcoholic beverages, and it is not intended for mixing with any liquids, noted Breathable Foods.
It also insisted that “decades of research have shown that particles above 10 microns in size, if inhaled, fall out of the mouth and do not penetrate the respiratory tract”.
Breathable Foods chief executive Tom Hadfield said: "We will cooperate fully with the FDA’s review to address the issues raised by Sen. Schumer and are confident that it will conclude that AeroShot is a safe, effective product that complies with FDA regulations.”