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Firm claims yeast product will inhibit acrylamide in foods

By Jane Byrne , 16-Mar-2010
Last updated on 17-Mar-2010 at 09:05 GMT

Canadian yeast research and development company, Functional Technologies Corporations, said it has developed, tested and filed patent applications for a yeast technology that reduces the formation of acrylamide, a carcinogen formed when starchy foods are baked, fried or toasted.

Recognized globally as a serious food safety issue since 2002, acrylamide has been found in products such as bread, cookies, crackers, baby food, breakfast cereal, French fries and potato chips.

Acrylamide is formed when asparagine, an amino acid found in all starchy, high-carbohydrate foods, reacts with the heat of cooking.

Asparagine degradation

Functional Technologies explained that its proprietary yeast technology can metabolize asparagine faster than regular yeast through its enhancement of the yeast cell’s innate ability to degrade asparagine and reduce its presence prior to the heating process.

“In bread-making and any product in which baker’s yeast is used currently, our enhanced yeast would simply replace traditional yeast, greatly reducing the amount of acrylamide in bread and other baked goods,” stated the firm.

Tests

The developer said that the efficacy of the product has been quite good in preliminary testing.

“We expect to improve results with further testing. In terms of our record to date, with our ethyl carbamate-reducing yeast we were able to achieve reductions of EC of up to 90 per cent in the final end product.

We are targeting similar achievements for this yeast but the development work still has to be done,” it admitted.

Food manufacturers have been working with regulatory authorities and competitors to develop new methods to reduce the formation of acrylamide in products since it was first discovered in 2002 such as s changing the pH to alter the reaction products, cutting heating temperatures and times, using an enzyme to convert asparargine into an impotent form and binding asparagines to make it inaccessible.

But, according to Functional Technologies, these various approaches are either too costly or not effective.

The company said it was difficult to determine the cost of its yeast product at this stage but that it anticipates it would be positioned at a premium to current bulk yeast costs.

Industry collaboration

Functional Technologies said it is hoping to team up with companies involved in yeast, bakery and general food production to accelerate its proprietary yeast strain product development and commercialization, and it added that preliminary discussions have already been initiated with some potential partners.

“The best approach to commercialization is to partner with medium- and large-sized food industry companies for product and protocol development appropriate to specific product categories,” stated the firm.

The Canadian developer did not disclose when the product would be market ready but said its most immediate focus is the research work and initial testing of the technology with different food products:

“Outside of bread, different foods and processing methods will likely require unique protocols and, potentially, different yeast strains. Much of the testing will be in the areas of product taste and appearance and how to mitigate changes in these areas (if they occur),” it added.

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