GRAS status for commercial canola proteins

By Sarah Hills

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Archer daniels midland, Food and drug administration, Nutrition

A company which produces two canola protein isolates claims to have become the first to achieve GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) status for use in food in the US.

Canadian R&D firm Burcon NutraScience Corporation said its isolates called Puratein and Supertein have self-affirmed GRAS which permits them to be marketed and used in a variety of mainstream foods and beverages for human consumption.

Protein ingredients are valued for both their nutritional qualities as well as their functional applications in foods and beverages and it is a multi-billion dollar global market.

Puratein and Supertein are the result of a major project the company has been working on together with the agricultural leader Archer Daniels Midland (ADM).

The companies claim that these ingredients are the world's first commercial canola proteins and they join the competitive soy, dairy and egg protein ingredient market, for use in foods, nutritional supplements and personal care products.

Johann F. Tergesen, Burcon's President & COO, said: "Achieving GRAS status is a major advancement in the commercialization of Puratein and Supertein, the world's first food-grade canola proteins.

"We benefited from the expertise of our development partner, Archer Daniels Midland Company, throughout this process. Our combined team is focused on creating a competitive advantage for food and beverage manufacturers with these exciting new proteins."

Puratein has functional properties that include emulsification, gel formation, thickening, formation of heat-stable foams, and water- and ingredient-binding. Applications include dressings, meat substitutes, baked goods and protein bars.

Supertein has functional properties including excellent solubility, the ability to form transparent solutions and foaming. Applications include beverages, confectionery, aerated desserts, and protein bars.

The products have been self-affirmed GRAS through an independent evaluation by a panel of qualified experts in the fields of food safety, toxicology, nutritional sciences, food allergies and pediatric nutrition.

GRAS status is the standard set by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for food ingredients to be accepted for use in foods and beverages.

Burcon said that along with ADM it will also pursue GRAS notification for the two products. A substance is GRAS notified when, after reviewing the GRAS notification, the FDA responds with a no-objection letter if it is satisfied with the submission.

Burcon is a research and development company developing a portfolio of composition, application, and process patents around its plant protein extraction and purification technology.

Canola, recognized for its nutritional qualities, is the second-largest oilseed crop in the world after soybeans.

The process to market

In July Burcon announced a growing loss and deficit for the fiscal year 2008 as it sought to bring its canola protein isolates to market.

It said at the time that during the past fiscal year, Burcon had amended its agreement with ADM to proceed with the regulatory approval for the two ingredients.

It has forked out US$473,000 related to the regulatory recognition process so far, and expected to have to pay an additional $144,000.

The total cost of obtaining GRAS for the ingredients was then estimated at $977,000, which included a contribution from ADM.

Burcon also said that it is pursuing European novel foods status for the ingredients.

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