Dispatches from the 6th Annual Food Technology & Innovation Forum, 2012, Chicago

Novel digestive health ingredient targets big guns in food and beverages

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Wild Flavors was one of several exhibitors at the 6th Annual Food Technology & Innovation Forum, held last week at McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago
Wild Flavors was one of several exhibitors at the 6th Annual Food Technology & Innovation Forum, held last week at McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago

Related tags Immune system

Wild Flavors is in advanced negotiations with leading food and beverage firms about using a novel milk-based digestive health ingredient claimed to help maintain and repair the lining of the gut wall.

Tegricel, a bioactive peptide from bovine colostral whey developed by South Dakota-based Sterling Technology, made its debut in the dietary supplements market, but is now being targeted at food and beverage manufacturers following a partnership with Wild announced in late 2010.

Unlike prebiotics and probiotics, which attempt to favorably alter the composition of gut bacteria, Tegricel is claimed to rejuvenate epithelial cells and tissues in the gut wall that have been damaged by stress, microbial infections, over indulgence and the use of pain killers.

Juices, smoothies, protein drinks, bars, confectionery

Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA at the Food Technology and Innovation Forum in Chicago last week, Wild Flavors manager health ingredient and technology solutions Heather Biehl said Tegricel presented manufacturers with another option in the burgeoning digestive health market beyond pre- and probiotics.

“It’s GRAS, it’s labeled as ‘milk peptides’ and it’s water soluble. It can be a bit cloudy in beverages but it has a nice clean taste profile.”

It can also help to repair gut tissue damaged by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) used to treat chronic pain, she said.

She added: “We’ve had some really good feedback. The first products likely to launch are protein drinks but we are talking about several different applications. It’s ideal for smoothies, juices, bars, dairy and confectionery.”

While it was not suitable for some baking applications, it could withstand pasteurization and hot fill beverage applications, she added.

“The recommended dose is about 1g a day, so two servings of 500g.”

Research behind Tegricel

Sterling Technology vice president, sales, Derek Kjelden, said the firm had started by conducting cell culture work on human gut epithelial cells, and then progressed onto rat studies, which demonstrated the ability of Tegricel to repair gut lining damaged by the use of NSAIDs.

It then moved onto a small three-month human study on 12 subjects with mild digestive complaints, in which blood and saliva samples were taken and participants had to fill in questionnaires tracking their subjective experience of gut function, allergies, and other health complaints (energy, sleep, stamina, emotional health etc).

The saliva tests showed subjects taking Tegricel had a 30% increase in secretory Immunoglobulin A (sIgA), which reflects mucosal immune protection, while the questionnaires showed subjects taking Tegricel also felt better and more able to focus, said Kjelden.

However, further human studies were needed, he acknowledged.  “We’re still scoping out what we need to do next.”

Under a partnership struck in late 2010, Wild became the exclusive distributor of Tegricel and Sterling’s other bioactive milk peptide ingredient Immunel to the food and beverage market.

What is Tegricel?

Colostrum is a fluid produced from the mammary glands of female mammals shortly after giving birth. Bovine colostrum is especially rich in immune factors, amino acids, nucleotides and growth factors.

It also contains high amounts of immunoglobulins (Ig) which recognize foreign substances that may be harmful.

Specifically, colostrum is claimed to protect the gut lining from NSAID‐induced intestinal damage via inhibiting the expression of the inflammatory mediator COX‐2 in intestinal epithelial cells; inhibiting the inflammatory signaling cascade involving Nuclear Factor kappa B (NFkb); binding to unabsorbed NSAIDs and rendering them inactive; and reducing the blood levels of toxins from gram‐negative bacterial infections.

Family-owned Sterling Technology is a leader in bioactive milk peptide ingredients for the human and animal nutrition markets.  

Wild Flavors Inc is a leading supplier of flavors and natural health ingredients, with particular expertise in the beverages market.

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