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Dispatches from IFT

Nestlé expands novel nutrient bioavailability

By Stephen Daniells in Chicago , 19-Jul-2010

A new source of iron may enhance the fortification of foods and overcome the challenges to taste and color, a Nestlé researcher has reported.

At the IFT Annual Meeting and Food Expo in Chicago, Fabiola Dionisi, PhD, group leader of nutrient bioavailability at the Nestlé Research Center in Lausanne, Switzerland, told attendees that the company has developed a new inorganic iron source with excellent organoleptic properties.

Studies by Nestlé scientists have shown that the new source – ferrous ammonium phosphate (FAP) – is significantly more bioavailable than ferric pyrophosphate (FePyr) in adults (but less bioavailable than iron sulfate, FeSO4).

Iron deficiency remains the leading nutrient deficiency in both developed as well as developing countries. It affects around one in five women in the UK. Fortifying foods with iron also poses several challenges for the food industry, most notably with regards to effects on color, taste, and the shelf-life of the food.

Dr Dionisi told a packed auditorium how the new iron source could be used in color and flavor sensitive foods, such as chocolate drinks and milk powders.

The ingredient already has GRAS and JECFA approval, said Dr Dionisi, and ‘novel foods’ approval in Europe is expected by the end of 2010.

Talking to NutraIngredients-USA, Dr Dionisi confirmed that the ingredient – a white tasteless powder – is patented by Nestlé.

Beyond iron

The work is in-line with previous research by Nestlé scientists, said Dr Dionisi. There are various ways of modulating the bioavailability of nutrients, she said: The first approach is to modulate the composition of food, and approaches include encapsulation of nutrients, enzymatic treatments, and the use of emulsions.

A second approach is to modulate absorption in the gut, and this can be achieved by inhibiting certain intestinal enzymes or regulation of transporters. The final approach is to modulate the absorption and metabolism at the organ level.

“This [final approach] is futuristic,” said Dr Dionisi, “but this is where I think we should aim.”

Examples of such approaches include the company’s lycopene granulated with whey protein. By granulating tomato oleoresin with whey protein Nestlé has obtained a lycopene-rich ingredient with similar bioavailability to the lycopene from tomato paste.

Another example of a Nestlé advance was the enzymatic modulation of hesperidin – a citrus flavonoid found in oranges – to produce hesperitin-7-glucoside.

Hesperidin is characterized by low bioavailability in the order of about 1 percent, she said, and this occurs in the colon. Earlier work by Gary Williamson – now at the University of Leeds in the UK – led to the development of an enzymatic treatment in orange juice to convert the hesperidin to hesperitin-7-glucoside.

This approach led to a “significant increase in the bioavailability without changing the metabolite profile,” said Dr Dionisi. The absorption of the compound was also prolonged, she added.

This research was published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2006 (Vol. 136, pp. 404-408), with advances published in the British Journal of Nutrition (Oct 2009, Vol. 102, pp 976-984).

A final example is the use of phospholipids as the source of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, compared to the triglyceride form, as is the form obtained in fish oil. Using phospholipids as the DHA source increased DHE in the mother’s milk and in the brain and retina of the neonate. This work was published in Nutrition & Metabolism (2010, 7:2). http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/pdf/1743-7075-7-2.pdf