The synthetic chewing gum base, polyvinyl methyl ether maleic anhydride copolymer, has been used for decades as a component of oral care products such as denture adhesives and toothpastes. The potential novel foods approval comes soon after another disintegrable gum base, Rev7, got the novel foods nod.
RSSL’s application received a positive opinion from The Dutch Competent Authority last year and the Commission is now pondering whether to grant novel foods approval, which is expected in October.
Reducing environmental impact
A source told ConfectioneryNews.com that the chewing gum base was based upon a common cosmetic product and was designed to solve the problem of gum littering on streets.
“Our main objective with this new gum base is to alleviate environmental challenges.”
“It is not anticipated it will impact the chewing gum,” she said, adding that flavour and mouth-feel were the same as a conventional gum bases.
Asked how long the gum would take to degrade on pavements, she said that it would largely depend on weather conditions, but expected it to be equivalent to other synthetic polymer gum bases.
Technology firm Revolymer recently gained EU novel foods approval for its own polymer gum base Rev7, which its CEO previously told this site can degrade between two to three months in drains and in less than two years on pavements.
If granted, RSSL’s gum base will be the second polymer to be approved as a chewing gum base in 30 years.
Status of the application
The source said that the Commission was currently canvassing questions from member states and should reach a decision after it meets again in October after a summer-break.
She said that no real concerns had been raised and only a few member states had requested additional data.
Unlike Revolymer, RSSL hasn’t claimed self-affirmed GRAS (Generally Recognised as Safe) status in the US and has opted for the EU novel foods approval route.
Who will use the gum base?
What happens to the gum base after novel foods approval is yet to be decided, according to the ex-RSSL scientist.
RSSL has not sought to patent protect the process for the gum base and it’s unclear whether the co-polymer will be available to the industry as a whole or to RSSL’s parent company Kraft, makers of Trident gum.
RSSL was previously owned by Cadbury and later became an R&D arm of Kraft when the makers of Dairylea acquired the chocolate company in 2010.
The application for novel foods approval came before the takeover.
Revolymer: no threat
Revolymer CEO Roger Pettman told this site yesterday that he didn’t see RSSL’s novel foods application as a threat.
He said his company was pleased to see others taking steps to reduce the environmental impact of chewing gum waste.
Other degradable gum initiatives
As well as Rev7, The Chicza Rainforest Gum Initiative has an ‘Organic Rainforest Gum’ that is made from natural chicle, which dissolves within four to six weeks on pavements. It is only available in the UK and entered Waitrose stores in 2009.
Researchers from University College Cork, Ireland, recently patented a process for a non-sticky, biodegradable gum that uses cereal proteins, while a Dutch consortium including TNO are researching ways to make a similar gum. (See HERE and HERE )