The licorice or bitter flavors associated with the Reb A stevia extract – also known as rebiana, or rebaudioside A – have presented difficulties for companies wishing to use the sweetener, and flavor companies have been trying to find ways to mask it without detracting from the perceived benefits of its natural status.
Cargill said that it is taking a dual-layered approach, starting with its patented technology examining taste responses to Reb A “at a cellular level” and then developing flavor solutions based on these findings.
The company said that its new flavor solutions are suitable for cereal, yogurt, ice cream, confectionery and “various beverage applications including carbonated soft drinks and flavored water that benefit from a natural, reduced calorie product positioning.”
Technical director at Cargill Flavor Systems Dr Paul Kim said: “Cargill’s ability to quickly develop these flavors builds on a broad product portfolio from masking technology to sweetness enhancing flavors for rebiana sweetened foods and beverages. Cargill Flavor Systems taps into the world-class technology pool that no other food ingredient or flavor company can offer.”
Cargill is the latest in a long line of firms to investigate possible solutions for flavor masking and sweetness enhancement for food and beverage applications with Reb A.
In a similar announcement in February, Givaudan said that it was in the process of applying for patents related to what it claimed was its discovery of the bitter taste receptors triggered by the sweetener – technology that would form the basis of its flavor solutions for stevia.
Other flavor firms, including Symrise and Comax, have also developed ranges of bitter blockers, flavor maskers and sweetness extenders specifically for use with stevia. And Reb A supplier PureCircle joined with flavor company Firmenich in January, in order to capitalize on the ingredient’s potential as a flavor enhancer, as well as to speed its commercial use by using Firmenich’s flavor masking and sweetness enhancing technologies.
Cargill teamed up with Coca-Cola last year to develop their own stevia-derived product called Truvia, while PepsiCo partnered with the Whole Earth Sweetener Company (a subsidiary of Merisant) to produce its own brand called PureVia.
Cargill and Merisant received letters of no objection from the FDA in December that their Reb A ingredients were generally recognized as safe (GRAS), effectively opening the floodgates to companies looking to use the natural, zero-calorie sweetener in their products.