DSM Food Specialities launched its asparaginase enzyme, derived from Aspergillus niger, last September after having obtained application intellectual property rights from patent holders Frito-Lay and Proctor & Gamble. Most EU countries, with the exception of France and Denmark, do not require approval of enzymes as processing aids. DSM gained the French and Danish approvals last year, and has also received a letter of non objection to its enzyme being regarded as GRAS (generally recognized as safe) in the US. Since Switzerland is not in the EU, approval was required before the ingredient can be used in products there. The country is in the European Free Trade Association, which contributes to its importance as a strategic market. The company says the Federal Office of Public Health granted approval since under Swiss law the production strain for the asparaginase is not considered genetically modified. A spokesperson for DSM said it is in talks with several companies in Switzerland but could not give any information regarding who they are talking to or when products made using the enzyme are expected to come to market. DSM says it is also expecting approvals from regulatory bodies in Australia and Canada in the near future. Anti-acrylamide application Acrylamide is a suspected carcinogen that is formed during by heat-induced reaction between sugar and an amino acid called asparagine. Known as the Maillard reaction, this process is responsible for the brown colour and tasty flavour of baked, fried and toasted foods. Preventase works to convert free asparagine into aspartic acid, another animo acid that does not form acrylamide. The nutritional properties are unaffected, and so are the browning and taste aspects. According to DSM, the enzyme is "now increasingly being used by biscuit manufacturers all over the EU and equally in the US". The first commercial use was by a German biscuit-maker, which made biscuits with 70 per cent less acrylamide for the 2007 Christmas market. It can also be used in other dough-based products such as bread, crackers, formed potato products and crackers. Acrylaway The launch of Preventase by DSM coincided with Novozyme's launch of its acrylamide reducing enzyme, called Acrylaway. Also an asparaginase and with the same underlying action, Novozymes' product stems from a different production strain: Aspergillus oryzae. Novozymes has also obtained GRAS status in the US and approvals in France and Denmark.
The company had not responded to an enquiry as to its status in Switzerland prior to publication deadline.