Senomyx submitted the enhancers, S336 and S807, to the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA) for Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) determination at the end of December.
"This is a critical milestone for Senomyx since it represents an important step towards commercialization. Our savory enhancers function as a savory flavor and an enhancer of savory taste and may therefore eliminate the need for added monosodium glutamate (MSG) in packaged foods and beverages," said Kent Snyder, the company's CEO.
He added that he expects to receive the results of the FEMA expert panel review during the first half of 2005. This could mean that the ingredient could be found in packaged foods and drinks by the first half of 2006, according to John Poyhonen, chief financial officer at Senomyx.
He told FoodNavigatorUSA.com that the savory enhancement project is one of four research projects that the company currently has in place.
The second project is looking at sweet enhancers that unlike artificial sweeteners are made from natural ingredients.
"We have proof that this concept works and we are now working to show its potency," said Poyhonen.
Salt enhancers designed to reduce the sodium content is the company's third project underway at present, which are presently being screened using human taste receptors.
Poyhonen noted that during the third quarter of 2003, the company started looking at a bitter blocking program aimed at reducing the bitter taste of foods such as soy products.
He said that nutritious foods often taste more bitter than sweet or sugary snacks and with the growing emphasis on healthy eating there is more demand from manufacturers for bitter foods to taste better.
However, Poyhonen conceded that many people like bitter foods and that Senomyx is not therefore trying to eliminate the bitter taste, but to modulate it.
Back in October Senomyx announced a second collaboration with the Swiss food giant Nestlé. This was a five-year agreement for the discovery and commercialization of novel flavor ingredients in the coffee and coffee whitener fields.
The first collaboration - entered into in 2002 - focused on the discovery of novel flavors and flavor enhancers for dehydrated and culinary foods, frozen foods and wet soups.
"Our goal is to continue collaborating with leading companies seeking to improve the nutritional profile, reduce costs, or improve other attributes of their products," said Snyder.