“Aloe vera as a food ingredient has been pretty controversial in the past,” Jonathan Tanaka, scientific and regulatory affairs project manager at Morinaga Nutritional Foods, told FoodNavigator-USA. “There hasn’t been any FDA notification of Aloe vera gel as ‘generally recognized as safe,’ nor any premarket approval.”
The company just launched Alove, a Japanese-style, light and thin yogurt with suspending cubes of Aloe vera particulates. Products just shipped to retailers at the end of July to 15 retailers in California and Nevada.
Though Aloe vera yogurt is a common treat in Japan and many Asian countries, Tanaka added that the plant is an “extraordinarily difficult ingredient to decipher how it fits in regulations throughout the world.”
In Japan, Aloe vera gel is considered a vegetable. In the US, however, it needs to follow FDA’s GRAS standard of being presented in front of an expert panel because the agency has revoked GRAS status of some Aloe vera-derived ingredients, Tanaka said.
'Not the Prop 65 kind'
The self-affirm GRAS designation specifically looked at Morinaga Nutritional Food’s Aloe vera cubes used in the Alove product. “Our process is different from what other companies have put out there,” Tanaka said.
Another form of Aloe vera processing, resulting in an ingredient dubbed ‘Aloe vera, non-decolorized whole leaf extract,’ appears on California’ Prop 65 because some studies suggest it may be carcinogenic.
“So ‘colorized’ here is the key word,” Tanaka said. “We wanted to say, we’re not using this part of the plant that’s in Proposition 65. It’s a completely different compound, a completely different manufacturing process.
“Before our launch, we did our due diligence to make this particular Aloe vera gel, made with this particular manufacturing process from this particular supplier, for the intended use in yogurt.”