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Wrigley gains novel food approval for magnolia bark extract in EU

By Oliver Nieburg , 21-Nov-2011
Last updated on 21-Nov-2011 at 15:52 GMT

Gum giant Wrigley has been granted novel food approval in the EU for an extract to be used in chewing gum and mints that will allow it to introduce new products with perceived breath-freshening benefits.

Magnolia bark extract comes from the bark of the plant Magnolia officinalis. Wrigley made an application to the UK’s Food Standards Agency for the extract to be approved as safe for EU consumers in September 2009.

Before any new food product can be introduced on the European market, it is assessed for safety through FSA who appoints an independent committee of scientists, the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP).

Limited risk to consumers

Manisha Upadhyay of the UK’s Food Standards Agency told ConfectioneryNews.com: “Magnolia bark extract has been assessed as a novel ingredient under the EU novel foods regulation and all member states were in agreement for this ingredient to be authorised.”

“A letter authorising the placing on the EU market of magnolia bark extract at a maximum level of incorporation of 0.2% into gums and mints was sent to William Wrigley Jr. Company on 18 October 2011,” she said.

“As with all novel food authorisations, the authorisation is specific only to the applicant company William Wrigley Junior. The letter will shortly be published on the FSA website,” she added.

Wrigley’s plans

Wrigley was asked about its plans for products containing the extract but remained largely tight-lipped.

Kristin Kinkella, EU director for corporate affairs at Wrigley told this site: “Magnolia Bark extract is a novel ingredient with strong breath freshening benefits and we are pleased that it is now approved for use in Europe.

“However we would not routinely provide commentary on our product development plans,” she said.

Medicinal claims not permitted

In its initial application, Wrigley said the extract, derived from plants native to mountains and valleys in China, had been used in traditional remedies in Asia for centuries.

However, Wrigley will only be allowed to market products containing the extract in EU as offering benefits to combat bad breath.

The extract has GRAS (Generally Recognised as Safe) status in the United States and magnolia bark extract gum and mints have been marketed in US since June 2008.

In the US, claims relating to antibacterial properties of the gums and mints are allowed and have been made, but would be considered illegal under EU legislation as they would be regarded as medicinal.

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