Novozymes targets acrylamide-reduction with Acrylaway

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food

Novozymes has today announced the launch of an asparaginase enzyme
aimed at reducing the formation of acrylamide called Acrylaway -
another landmark along the road to reducing levels of the
carcinogen in baked and fried foods.

Acrylamide is a suspected carcinogen that is formed during by heat-induced reaction between sugar and an amino acid called asparagine. Known as the Maillard reaction, this process is responsible for the brown colour and tasty flavour of baked, fried and toasted foods. Awareness of acrylamide's presence stems from a 2002 study conducted by Swedish National Food Authorities, which identified high levels in some bakery and snack products. Since then acrylamide reduction has been a major target for food manufacturers, but efforts to address it by reducing heat have impaired the sensory properties of finished products. Today's launch is significant as it gives food producers a new tool to combat the problem and reduce concerns about the safety of consumer end-products - but without impacting taste or appearance. Novozymes explained that its technology converts free asparagine into aspartic acid, another animo acid that does not form acrylamide. The nutritional properties are unaffected, and nor are the browning and taste aspects. The launch announcement comes just a day after DSM Food Specialities said it has obtained rights to the application rights for asparaginase's use in foods from patent holders Frito-Lay and Proctor & Gamble. Novozymes has also licensed the application rights. Anett Lund-Nielsen Colstrup, launch manager for Acrylaway,​ did not wish to comment in detail on DSM's product, which is called PreventASe. But she said she understands both companies' to have the same aim. They are both an asparaginase, but are derived from different production strains - Novozymes' from Aspergillus oryzae​ and DSM's from Aspergillus niger​. A spokesperson for Frito-Lay told FoodNavigator.com that the snack food manufacturer conducted its own research following the 2002 revelations and participated in the research. "Frito-Lay invented a potential method to mitigate acrylamide's natural formation when cooking or baking dough-based foods,"​ he said. Likewise, P&G applied for patents for asparaginase' use in food, said a spokesperson for that company, as it was investigating that asperagine could be a tool for acrylamide reduction, "As the technology was developed we were able to ensure it could be licensed to other companies,"​ she said. "The intention was always to make it widely available."​ But to date neither Frito-Lay nor P&G has launched a consumer product using asparaginase. The FritoLay spokesperson said: "We are currently determining how both the Novozymes and DSM products could be applied to our snacks."​ P&G, too, is iinvestigating to see if the technology could work in its processes. "We are still in the exploratory phase."​ Lund-Nielsen Colstrup said that now Acrylaway has been launched it is up to the food industry to decide when they would like to implement it. She said major food players have sampled it and expressed interest, but could not give details of discussions that are underway. She did say, however, that the ambition is to make Acrylaway broadly available to the food industry, and that means globally. "A lot of food manufacturers are global companies, so we want to make sure everyone can use this without being limited by geography." ​ To this end, Novozymes has obtained GRAS (generally recognised as safe) status for the enzyme in the US, and has applied for approval in Australia and New Zealand. In most European countries regulatory approval for enzymes used as processing aids is not required. Exceptions to this are Novozymes' home country of Denmark, where it has received approval, and France, where it is "working on securing approval".​ DSM also has GRAS status for its enzyme in the US and is working on a dossier for France.

Related topics: Cultures, enzymes, yeast

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