The Danish enzyme specialist launched Acrylaway to the industry last year. The asparaginase, from Aspergillus oryzae, works to convert free asparagine into aspartic acid, another animo acid that does not form acrylamide. The nutritional properties are unaffected, and so are the browning and taste aspects. 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. Global product launch manager for Acrylaway Thomas Erik Nilsson said Novozymes' enzyme is now being commercially applied in products such as biscuits, crackers, crisp bread and snacks. "The global industry implementation progresses as expected," he said. Most recently, the company gained approvals for its use in Mexico and Vietnam. In Australia and New Zealand, Acrylaway has been recommended for addition to the positive list of approved processing aids, following a safety evaluation. It is expected to be included in the next published amendment. Formal actions to include it in the positive list for Canada are also underway, since the Food Ruling Committee made a positive conclusion as to its safety in May this year. Registration and approval is still ongoing in a number of countries. Approvals are expected in Brazil, China and Russia in 2008. In most of the EU, regulatory approvals for enzymes as processing aids is not currently required, which meant that Novozymes was able to launch in that market early on. The exceptions are Denmark and France, for which Novozyme is understood to have obtained the green light in 2007. For the US market, an FDA consent letter in which the administration recognised the enzyme as GRAS (generally recognised as safe) was received in November 2006. Nilsson reports that approval was also positively evaluated from the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) in June 2007, which gives independent scientific expert advice to the Codex Commission and its specialist committees. Preventase update The launch period for Acrylaway was marked by fierce competition with DSM, which introduced its Preventase enzyme in the same week. Both Novozymes' and DSM's enzymes are asparaginase and work in the same way, but Preventase comes from a different strain, Aspergillus niger. DSM provided an update on the regulatory status of Preventase last week. It has now been granted approval by the Federal Office of Public Health, since under Swiss law the production strain for the asparaginase is not considered genetically modified. Although it is not in the EU, Switzerland is in the European Free Trade Association, which contributes to its importance as a strategic market. Registration and approval of Novozymes' Acrylaway in Switzerland is still ongoing, Nilsson said. Enzyme acceptance In December 2007, both Acrylaway and Preventase received a boost when the CIAA (Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries of the EU) included asparaginase in the new version of its Acrylamide Toolbox. The move seen to validation the efforts of companies that have developed commercial solutions using the acrylamide-reducing enzyme.