Four savory enhancers produced by food technologists Senomyx were awarded FEMA GRAS last week. The flavor enhancers are aimed at companies wanting to reduce the amount of monosodium glutamate added to their foods.
La Jolla, California based Senomyx has set itself the challenge of trying to help reduce the over-consumption of food additives such as salt and food additive E621, otherwise known as monosodium glutamate or MSG.
Senomyx received Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) determination from the Food and Extract Manufactures Association (FEMA) - a regulatory body of the FDA - for four of its savory enhancers.
Savory enhancers S807 and S336, in addition to enhancers S263 and S976, which are closely related to S336, were determined as GRAS.
Senomyx claims that it is the first biotechnology company to receive this FEMA GRAS determination.
The company's savory enhancers activate taste receptors by augmenting the flavor of naturally occurring glutamate found in many food and beverage products and therefore reduce - or even eliminate - the amount of MSG necessary to achieve a "savory" taste in foods.
In laboratory tests, Senomyx's prototype boosted flavor by 40 percent, according to the company, which is also working on salt, sugar and bitter enhancers. The aim is that consumers will be able to choose foods that contain half the additives presently included in them, but that taste the same.
The GRAS determination will enable incorporation of Senomyx's savory enhancers into a variety of food products including sauces, frozen foods, processed cheese and snack foods.
Senomyx is currently working in collaboration with Nestle, Kraft, Campbell Soup and Coca Cola. The GRAS determination will allow these companies to begin test marketing the enhancers in some well-known foods. Senomyx expects the first commercial sales of foods containing these enhancers to be made in early 2006.
"Receiving GRAS determination for our savory enhancers represents a very important milestone for Senomyx as we move towards the commercialization phase of our company," said Kent Snyder, Chief Executive Officer of Senomyx. "Now that we have received the GRAS determination, consumer acceptance testing of our savory enhancers can begin. We anticipate that the first commercial sale of products that include our savory enhancers will occur during the first half of 2006, which would result in royalty payments to Senomyx."