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Probiotics and stevia extracts among new FCC proposed standards

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 05-Jan-2012

Probiotics and stevia extracts among new FCC proposed standards

US Pharmacopeia has drafted new ingredient quality standards for inclusion in the Food Chemicals Codex (FCC), for probiotics, steviol glycosides, benzoates, infant formula and flavoring ingredients, and is seeking industry comments.

The FCC is a compendium of ingredient monographs and tests to ensure the quality, purity and safety of more than 1,100 food ingredients. USP is the non-governmental, non-profit authority responsible for setting those standards and publishing the FCC compendium.

Among the new standards, USP said that strong consumer interest in probiotics and new applications incorporating probiotics led to the development of a new FCC Appendix, Microbial Food Cultures Including Probiotics.

“Testing for identity is difficult with probiotics, and this is a key area where public standards provided in the Food Chemicals Codex can be of significant value across the food, nutritional and consumer products industries,” said USP’s chief science officer Praveen Tyle.

“These are standards that all parties can use. With more manufacturers incorporating probiotics in products beyond yogurts based on rising consumer interest, scrutiny of health claims will grow, as will global sourcing of ingredients. We believe additional measures for determining identity and overall quality will be useful in protecting consumers and manufacturers alike.”

The draft standards include testing to confirm probiotic identity, purity and microbe count, to ensure product safety, as well as authenticity of health claims.

USP has also proposed new standards for several steviol glycosides, the sweet components from the stevia leaf. Although it has already developed a monograph for rebaudioside A (reb A), a new monograph extends to other stevia-derived ingredients, which it says increasingly are being used in foods and beverages.

“An important component of the standard is a newly developed method capable of separating and measuring all nine glycosides—which has been difficult in the past,” USP said.

Other proposed standards include those for three benzoates, in order to address concerns about economically motivated adulteration. Calcium benzoate, potassium benzoate and sodium benzoate are widely used as preservatives.

And USP has also proposed standards for 11 food flavoring agents, and infant formula ingredients, including a range of micronutrients.

The draft standards are available online here and are open for comment until March 31, 2012.

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