EU approval sought for antioxidant wood extract

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

A Russian firm has applied for novel food approval for a wood extract, which it says has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits.

The ingredient – taxifolin – is extracted from a type of larch wood and has been marketed for almost two decades in Russia and the United States as a food supplement.

The applicant, Ametis JSG, which filed for novel food approval via the UK’s Food Standard Agency (FSA), said it intends to market taxifolin as an ingredient for foods, supplements and in foods for particular nutritional uses (PARNUTS). Some of the proposed food applications include dairy, meat and confectionery products, as well as oil and fats, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Larch extracts

Taxifolin or (2R,3R) trans-dihydroquercetin is a flavanone extracted from the wood of dahurian larch (Larix gmelinii​). Although larch is not generally considered human food, larch gum – a sweet gum that hardens when exposed – is similar to gum Arabic, said Ametis in its application.

The firm noted that in folk medicine, extracts from the bark have been used for colds and respiratory infections, while an extract made of needles was used in cases of hypermenorrhea (abnormally heavy or prolonged menstruation). Bark of Larix lacricina ​has also been used traditionally to treat symptoms of non-insulin-dependent diabetes in Northern Quebec, Canada.

Benefits

Ametis said that although taxifolin also functions as preservative, its application describes the use of the ingredient for its nutritional purposes, which is how the firm intends to market it.

The novel food application highlights three scientifically-backed health benefits for the ingredient: antioxidant effects; anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties; and cardiovascular protection.

These benefits are supported by in vitro ​and animal studies, the latter of which suggest the beneficial effects occurred at dosages of 20-100 mg/kg body mass, said Ametis.

According to the application, there are no known safety concerns related to the consumption of taxifolin, even at high doses. Nevertheless, an acceptable daily intake for humans was suggested at 15 mg/kg body mass​(1050 mg/day for a 70 kg adult).

The application is currently under evaluation by the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP), which is appointed by the UK’s FSA.

The group is calling for comments to the application to be submitted by September 22, 2010, for them to be passed to the committee before it finalises its opinion.

The application can be viewed here​.

Related topics: Regulation & Safety