FSA seeks views on Wrigley’s magnolia bark

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Carbon dioxide

Magnolia bark extract could be used in chewing gum and mint confectionery to enhance their breath-freshening action, believes Wrigley, which has filed for novel foods approval in the EU.

The bark of the Magnoliae officinalis ​tree, a member of the biloba subspecies, has been used in traditional Chinese herbal medicine for thousands of years, and is reputed to have anti-stress properties. It is used in dietary supplements in some countries.

Wrigley’s Magnola Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Extract (MBSE) has two active compounds, phenols magnolol and honokiol. Based in the US, the William Wrigley Jr. Company filed a submission for novel foods approval for the extract with the UK’s Food Safety Authority in September 2009.

It deemed this necessary because the ingredient has been isolated from the plant. Moreover, it does not have a safe history of use in the European Union in chewing gum and confectionery products.

The FSA has now published the application online, and is seeking accepting comments from stakeholders until 1 February.

Proposed use

The confectionery giant is proposing that MBSE be used in gums and mints at a maximum level of 0.2 per cent. This means that a 1.5g piece of gum or mint would contain a maximum of 3mg MBSE.

It is not anticipating that the ingredient will be used in products aimed at “candy consumers”,​ such as Everton mints and Hubba Bubba; rather, it expects it will find a use in products consumed to freshen breath, but which are not marketed with the use of medicinal claims.


Typically mint is used in such products to sweeten the breath and mask any unpleasant odours. However the company has conducted research into the breath-freshening efficacy of MBSE, including the action underlying its ability to combat oral odours.

For a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry​ in 2007, Wrigley scientists Michael Greenberg, Philip Urnezis, and Minmin Tian investigated how the extract, and magnolol and honokiol, could inhibit bacteria in human saliva samples.

Using the minimum inhibition concentration (MIC) test - a quantification of the minimum concentration of extract required to inhibit growth - the researchers tested magnolia bark extract (MBE) and its two main components, magnolol and honokiol.

These experiments showed that MBE and its two main constituents strongly inhibited Porphyromonas gingivalis, Fusobacterium nucleatum, and Streptococcus mutans, bacteria responsible for bad breath (halitosis).

Indeed, an extract with a concentration of 0.2 per cent was reported to reduce bacterial populations by 99.9 per cent after only five minutes.

The in vitro results were followed up with a successful in vivo experiment involving nine healthy volunteers.

Wrigley’s novel foods submission is available online here​.

Details of the public consultation are here​.

Related topics Ingredients Gum

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