Mars-owned Wrigley is attempting to patent a method to produce ‘natural’ tooth friendly gummies using erythritol.
The company has spotted a need for gummies that are tooth friendly but don’t compromise on taste and texture or give a laxative effect.
The owner of Life Savers gummies and Starburst brands claimed in its patent application that this was not previously possible with gummies containing sucrose or polyols such as sorbitol and isomalt.
Sucrose and dental carries
Gummies typically contain a bulking agent such as sucrose or corn syrup and a doctoring agent, which controls crystallization of the product to prevent it from becoming misshapen and poor-tasting.
Wrigley said consumers were increasingly concerned that most sugars used as bulking agents, such as sucrose, maltose and fructose, can cause dental carries.
“Consumers would prefer that a gelled confection is non-cariogenic due to the dental benefits,” said Wrigley in its patent application.
Wrigley: Corn Syrup & many polyols not ideal
Gummie producers have tried to replace some sucrose with corn syrup, but Wrigley said this had limited impact on dental carries because corn syrup still contained sugars and in any case made the gummie surface prone to stickiness.
Polyols such as sorbitol, maltitol and isomalt have also been used, but are known to cause laxative effects.
“Another disadvantage of using sorbitol, maltitol, and isomalt ingredients in gelled confections is that these polyols are not considered natural in many countries,” said Wrigley.
Erythritol: Non-laxative, tooth friendly and natural
The company says the solution is erythritol.
“Because erythritol is absorbed before it enters the large intestine, it does not normally cause the laxative effects that are often experienced with consumption of other polyols.”
Wrigley added that this polyol, which is certified as tooth friendly, couldn’t be metabolized by oral bacteria, so it does not contribute to tooth decay.
“Erythritol is made by an enzymatic method that allows it to be labelled as ‘natural’ [under US Food and Drug Administration rules],” continued Wrigley.
Erythritol used alone would quickly crystalize - harming the texture of the gelled confection – so a doctoring agent must be added.
Wrigley said the doctoring agent could be sucromalt, inulin, brown rice syrup or combinations of the three. It said the erythritol to doctoring agent ratio was 95:5.