Nearly one year since the implementation of EU directive 2000/63/EC requiring the elimination of cysteine derived from human hair in foods, many manufacturers in Europe are still unaware of the difference between synthetic cysteine and cysteine of human and animal origin, claims Japanese ingredients company Ajinomoto.
According to the company, although some manufacturers think they are buying cysteine which complies with food regulations, HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography) tests have shown that this is not always the case.
Cysteine, used extensively in the food industry as a dough conditioning agent and to produce meat flavours, also has applications in other industries including pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.
At present, more than 80 per cent of cysteine used around the world is produced in China, where it is extracted from human hair and chicken feathers. Ajinomoto stressed in a statement that although some traders in this material claim to supply synthetic cysteine, HPLC tests have shown that it is in fact more likely to be extracted from human hair and therefore does not comply with the EU regulations.
The company claims it can provide the food industry with a cysteine ingredient produced by a chemical process using a new technology developed specifically for the production of pharmaceutical-grade cysteine. The ingredient has Kosher and Halal status and is suitable for vegetarian products.