Canola is most commonly used as a cooking oil or to make salad dressing, but Burcon has taken its isolates to make emulsifiers and binding systems in food products. The patent, which was first filed more than six years ago in April 2003, covers the composition of the dominant protein in Puratein, which can be used as an emulsifier in a range of applications including sauces, baked goods, meat substitutes, and protein bars. Puratein is said to be useful for emulsification, gel formation, thickening, formation of heat-stable foams, and water- and ingredient-binding.
Burcon said that this patent allowance is particularly important as it is a ‘composition of matter’ patent – the first that Burcon has been granted. This means that the patent covers the composition of the protein isolate itself, rather than only the process by which it is attained.
When the company was notified on Tuesday, Burcon’s president and chief operating officer Johann Tergesen said: “Today’s notice of allowance from the United States Patent and Trademark Office is particularly encouraging as it is Burcon’s first composition of matter patent application to have been allowed. Purateinis an excellent emulsifier that can form opaque heat-induced gels and as such it can be used to replace egg protein in certain applications.”
The company says it is building a portfolio of patents, including for protein extraction processes that it believes are not commercially viable, in order to “gain as much protection in the protein extraction and purification space as possible”. So far, it has 92 patents in various countries, including eight in the US. It has an additional 200 patents pending, including 70 in the US.
Burcon announced self-affirmed GRAS – generally recognized as safe – for its Puratein and Supertein protein isolates in October 2007, after review of evidence by a panel of experts from fields including food safety, toxicology, allergies and pediatric medicine.
At that time, the company stated its intention to achieve FDA GRAS notification. The ultimate goal of Burcon and its partner ADM is to have the two products join the soy, dairy and egg protein ingredient market, for use in foods, nutritional supplements and personal care products.