Belgian sweeteners firm Nutrilab is scaling up production of tagatose following regulatory approvals.
The company said its plant was capable of producing 5000 tonnes per year, with 70% tagatose crystals and 30% tagatose syrup, and was set to kick into life following the sweeteners EU approval recently and health claims wins.
“The last tests and revisions are under way,” said Christian M Vastenavond, PhD, director R&D nutraceuticals and international operations.
“Once the simulated moving bed (SMB) unit is fully operative, we can start industrial production runs. Our plant is equipped for an initial 5000Ton Tagatose production per annum.”
Tagatose is a low-calorie, low-GI monosaccharide that can be used as a sugar replacer. When Arla and Nordzucker decided to halt their joint venture to produce tagatose from dairy in 2006, despite having novel foods approval, Belgium-based Nutrilab stepped into the breach and bought up existing stocks.
It and several other sugar replacers recently benefitted from a positive European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) opinion that found it could benefit teeth and glycaemic response.
The European tagatose sector was stalled by Novel Foods procedures but that hurdle was cleared in August last year, Vastenavond said.
A recent study found tagatose could be useful in acidic drinks.
Writing in Food Research International, Cathleen Dobbs and Leonard Bell from Auburn University in the US report that the stability of tagatose is highest under low pH and in refrigerated products.
“These stability issues need to be considered by manufacturers who desire to use tagatose as a prebiotic in their food and beverage products,” wrote the researchers. “To obtain the prebiotic effect from tagatose, its degradation during product storage should be minimal.
“Shelf-stable beverages should be formulated using the lowest buffer concentration and pH possible to deliver the maximum amount of tagatose with the minimal discoloration from browning,” they added.