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Functional Technologies’ yeast to take acrylamide prevention into non-bakery

By Stephen Daniells , 29-Feb-2012

Proprietary yeast technology may help reduce acrylamide levels in finished foods that do not usually include yeast to ‘near non-detectable levels’, say the developers of the ingredient.

New data from Vancouver-based Functional Technologies indicates that testing by a third part revealed that the acrylamide-preventing yeast technology may reduce levels of asparagine – the main known precursor in the formation of acrylamide - by approximately 85% within 30 minutes.

Asparagine levels decreased to ‘near non-detectable levels’ within 60 minutes, added the company.

The development is said to show how the yeast could be applied to foods that don't currently use yeast, like potato products, and bread type coatings for fish or chicken.

Acrylamide story

Acrylamide is a suspected carcinogen that is formed during by heat-induced reaction between sugar and an amino acid called asparagine. Known as the Maillard reaction, this process is responsible for the brown color and tasty flavor of baked, fried and toasted foods.

The compound first hit the headlines in 2002, when scientists at the Swedish Food Administration first reported unexpectedly high levels of acrylamide, found to cause cancer in laboratory rats, in carbohydrate-rich foods.

The food industry already has several approaches at its disposal to help reduce acrylamide levels. Commercially available enzymes already target the conversion of asparagine into aspartic acid, thereby preventing it from being converted into acrylamide, with results indicating a reduction in acrylamide in the final product by as much as 90%.

‘Near non-detectable levels’

New data from Functional Technologies now indicates that the company’s proprietary acrylamide-preventing (AP) yeast may reduce asparagine levels to near non-detectable levels within 60 minutes when used in food application that traditionally do not incorporate yeast ingredients as processing aids.

"Our collaborative efforts with leading companies across a variety of food sectors continue to provide us with compelling results like those reported today,” said Howard Louie, Functional Technologies' executive chairman and chief business development officer.

“These help to substantiate the effectiveness of Functional Technologies' proprietary yeast technologies in preventing and reducing acrylamide in an increasingly widening range of commercial food applications, including those that do not traditionally use baker's yeast.”

GRAS filed

The yeast ingredient is not yet commercially available, but would be available globally when it gets licensed or acquired, a spokesperson for the company told FoodNavigator-USA. Functional Technologies filed a GRAS notification to the US FDA for its yeast at the start of February, 2012.

The North American market for acrylamide reduction has "the potential to be extremely large," added Connie Chen, PhD, the company's VP, Technology Development and Collaborations.

"Beyond traditional baking for bread and other baked goods, one of the most compelling features for the yeast companies is that the introduction and use of this acrylamide-preventing yeast into potato and starchy substrate products represent significant new markets for yeast sales."

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