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Degradable gum brand could see 2011 launch in EU, Revolymer

By Jane Byrne , 19-Apr-2011

UK based Revolymer said it hopes to launch its less sticky and degradable chewing gum brand REV7 in Europe by the end of this year following EFSA’s recent positive novel foods opinion for its Rev-7 gum base polymer.

"The plan would be to launch the brand REV7 on the European market at the end of 2011 dependent on logistical considerations,” said a spokesperson for the company when talking to ConfectioneryNews.com this morning.

The spokesperson added that it should take around six months for the opinion to be written up in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Gum base Rev-7 was developed at Bristol University in the UK by Professor Terence Cosgrove, who subsequently set up a company called Revolymer with chairman and CEO Roger Pettman and Lieven De Smedt to commercialise it.

US sales

Revolymer has been targeting the US market with its chewing gum brand following on from its declaring of self-affirmed GRAS (generally recognised as safe) last July.

And the company spokesperson said that the company is seeing rapid expansion in that market with REV7. “The product has recently started shipping and is now available in peppermint and spearmint flavours in close to 500 stores. It is competitively priced at between $1.19 and $1.39 a pack.”

The synthetic polymer looks to be a solution for manufacturers looking to cater to demand for chewing gum but without the associated environmental problems.

When asked whether Revolymer is in discussion with the leading gum makers in relation to their using the gum base in their own gum formulations, the company said it was not in a position to comment on that at this juncture.

The science

The Rev-7 gum base consists of branched polymers of monomethoxypolythylene glycol (MPEG), grafted on to polyisoprene-graft-maleic anhydride (PIP-g-MA) and unreacted glycol.

It is added to traditional gum base. Revolymer said its structure consists of a new comb-shaped polymer with an “oil loving backbone and water loving teeth.” The company added that the two key ingredients of the new polymer have been used widely in foodstuffs and medicines previously.

“The hydrophilic (water loving) nature of the teeth of the polymer is key as this enables the gum to retain water and to reabsorb water. The gum breaks down in water into small particles over 6 months and hence will disperse into the environment,” said the company.

Pettman told this publication last year that if gum made with Rev-7 goes down a drain it degrades within 2 to 3 months; on pavements it takes under two years. Over time the gum starts to crack, goes like a spider’s web and disintegrates into pieces, he said.

The EFSA opinion

In its opinion, published on 11 April, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) found that Rev-7 is safe at the proposed conditions of use and proposed intake levels = that is, a maximum of 8 per cent in formulations.

This opinion was based on assessment of a detailed specification including toxicologically-relevant compounds, the starting materials, and lab assessments of four production batches.

The ingredient is said to have virtually no nutritional value as chewing gum base is rarely swallowed, but studies and population-based intake estimates had to be carried out in case of migration of compounds from the polymer during chewing.

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