Biotech firm Redpoint Bio identified the natural sweetness enhancer – called RP44 – in June 2009. It was later revealed to be Reb C, a steviol glycoside from the stevia plant and a by-product of Reb A production, which is the main sweet component of most stevia sweeteners. Redpoint Bio licensed its RP44 ingredient to IFF this June.
Today, the companies announced that the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA) has approved the ingredient as generally recognized as safe (GRAS), following its review of IFF’s dossier outlining its safety for use in foods and beverages.
Vice president of flavors R&D at IFF Mark Dewis told FoodNavigator-USA.com: “What Redpoint did was identify this compound which was previously thought was a non-sweet bitter bad actor. It is indeed a non-sweet taste, but not a bitter bad actor, but an enhancer.”
Dewis said that the ingredient could be used to enhance caloric sweeteners, and its use is not specific to high fructose corn syrup or sucrose.
“We see it as a valuable component of our flavor modulation toolbox, as we see it as having wider scope,” he said. “…It has potential globally because it has a natural flavor label. It gives us a better ability to work across a broad category of products. And it produces more consumer-preferred flavors than we can with existing tools.”
Dewis said that the ingredient is particularly suitable for use in beverages, confectionery, dairy, yogurt and milk products, adding that according to the FEMA GRAS notification, the sweetness enhancer could also theoretically be used in baked goods and cereals, but that this was less likely due to technical reasons.
Food and beverage manufacturers have accelerated their efforts to respond to climbing rates of obesity and diabetes in recent years, on the back of a combination of consumer, commercial, and public health pressures. Apart from cutting calories in general, many manufacturers have been targeting added sugars as ingredients to reduce in formulations.