Genomics, a growing area of the biotech landscape, is already starting to bear fruits for the food industry with the news that Dutch enzyme company DSM Food Specialities has successfully designed a way to eliminate the bitter taste associated with protein hydrolysates - enzymes used to break down proteins and render them more readily digestible.
Cracking the code in late 2001 to the entire DNA sequence of the commonly used enzyme Aspergillus niger aided the Dutch ingredients company to come up with EndoPro, a food-grade enzyme which 'pre-digests' proteins.
In a statement this week, DSM said that it was already known that very bitter peptides contain proline residues. The company then worked on the hypothesis that adding proline-specific endoproteases to known proteases would reduce bitterness.
Derived from the Aspergillus micro-organism, already widely used in the food industry, EndoPro will be pitched at food products for consumers looking for a maximum uptake of gastro-intestinal of protein, but without the bitter after-taste.
According to the company, initial trials suggest that EndoPro reduces allergic reactions and might even help in the treatment of coeliac disease. "In addition, it can be used to make skimmed milk transparent, as well as removing the taste - without affecting the vitamins and minerals it delivers. This makes the health benefits of milk available even to those who dislike the taste and appearance," claims DSM.
Announcing the completion of the Aspergillus niger genome project in December 2001, Joop Roels, director of research and development life sciences at DSM, said: "We forecast signficant benefits for our customers in the bakery, fruit juice, beer, dairy and nutraceutical industries." This week's announcement suggests that DSM is beginning to harvest the fruits of its genome research.