Kerry’s Acryleast gains “organic suitable” status in EU ahead of landmark regulatory enforcement
20 May 2020 --- Kerry’s acrylamide-reducing Acryleast yeast solution has received “organic suitable” status in the EU, following a similar achievement in the US. This new designation comes ahead of the EU’s landmark enforcement of maximum allowable levels of acrylamide in children’s food categories. This status enables Acryleast to be used as an ingredient in the production of organic varieties of biscuits, baked goods, crackers and bread, among others. The Ireland-headquartered company flags the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as a significant factor pushing up demand for health-oriented F&B products.
“Consumers are still largely unaware of acrylamide. However, those that are aware are extremely concerned and even more so when they consider children and how they are at greater risk to this probable cancer causing agent. As the regulations around this are set to expand and become more stringent, consumer awareness can be expected only to grow,” Mike Woulfe, Vice-President of Enzymes at Kerry, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
Acrylamide naturally forms in starchy food products during high-temperature cooking, including frying, baking, roasting and industrial processing. “Acryleast is a natural, organic suitable, non-GMO baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) rich in asparaginase enzyme for acrylamide reduction. Acryleast has a naturally enhanced ability to consume asparagine, the precursor amino acid that transforms into acrylamide through the application of heat. Yeast already has a natural ability to consume asparagine, but this occurs quite slowly. Acryleast, on the other hand, has a greatly accelerated natural ability to consume asparagine, enabling food manufacturers to significantly reduce the acrylamide content in their food products within time frames feasible for commercial food manufacturing regimes,” Woulfe detais.
Launched last January through Kerry’s licensing agreement with Renaissance BioScience Corp, Acryleast is rich in asparaginase enzyme, which can reduce acrylamide levels by up to 90 percent. It is applicable across a range of food products, including biscuits, crackers, bread and other baked goods.
“Since launching Acryleast we have seen a steady increase in engagement with bakery and snacks customers in particular over their concern of acrylamide reduction. Kerry is working hand in hand with these customers and supporting them in carrying out plant trials with Acryleast. Customers have approached us looking for a seamless, versatile and effective solution for reducing acrylamide and one which is suitable for use in organic food products, without affecting the existing organic status. Receiving ‘organic suitable’ status is a significant milestone and Kerry’s ability to service the organic market, especially children’s food aligns perfectly with Kerry’s taste and nutrition positioning,”
“In light of COVID-19, consumers are changing their lifestyles more than ever, driven by concerns about their health. With this mindset, they increasingly consider organic foods to be beneficial to their health, stresses Kerry. In France, for instance, the company notes that 49 percent of consumers agree that organic food is healthier than non-organic. “These are challenging times for food manufacturers as they work to adapt to the emerging demands of today’s marketplace. One of these evolutions is that consumers are now more focused than ever on protecting their health and that of their children,” Woulfe highlights.
EU tightens acrylamide and general organic F&B regulations
Kerry’s licensing agreement with Renaissance BioScience Corp was timely given prior implementation of EU acrylamide regulations, which came into force in April 2018, marking the beginning of the law that limits the amount of acrylamide allowed in packaged foods and forces manufacturers to closely examine and reduce acrylamide levels in products.
Following the ingredient’s achievement of “organic suitable” status in the EU, the EU Commission will soon begin discussions with Member States on the possible setting of maximum levels for foodstuffs for various age groups as they conduct a review of existing benchmark levels.
“The EU continues to both expand and tighten its ongoing regulatory control of acrylamide’s presence in a wide variety of foodstuffs, especially with regard to the exposure faced by children, where rulings on maximum allowable limits are expected shortly. The November 2019 EU announcement requires Member States to monitor an expanded list of bakery and potato products beyond those previously designated,” says Woulfe.
These regulatory developments occur against a backdrop of updated EU-wide regulations for organic foods and beverages (set to take effect January 1, 2021). The new law, published May 2018 (2018/848), presents a substantial challenge for food and beverage manufacturers who wish to maintain their organic claims and designations.
The new policy also means a significant enhancement in the “naturalness” of organic foods and beverages offered for sale across the EU. Acryleast’s new status will enable organic producers to improve the healthfulness of their products by reducing the amount of acrylamide in children’s and adult organic biscuits, rusks, crackers, breads and many other items.
Last January, FoodIngredientsFirst caught up with Woulfe in an exclusive interview to discuss the ingredient’s mounting potential across global markets.
By Benjamin Ferrer
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