Used in a range of applications, from sports nutrition to dairy and confectionery products, trehalose, already approved in the US, Europe and South America, has about half the sweetness of sugar.
The latest approval from the Canadian authorities extends its reach in the competitive, but cash-generating, domain of sweeteners.
While the ingredients industry is bumping along today at around 3 to 4 per cent growth, suppliers of sweeteners are enjoying far stronger rates, 8.3 per cent year on year as rising health concerns drive consumers towards sugar free or low calorie products.
Market analysts Freedonia predict high single digit growth of intensity sweeteners will continue until 2008.
Created by Japan's Hayashibara company, Cargill won the sole European distribution rights to Ascend brand trehalose in July 2003.
Found naturally in mushrooms, honey, lobster and shrimp, the sweetener is a non-reducing disaccharide composed of two glucose molecules linked by an a 1-1 bond.
But Cargill's trehalose is produced using the Hayashibara patented enzyme conversion and crystallisation process, that results in a white crystalline powder (trehalose dihydrate).
"Hayashibara's patented production system provides a high degree of consistency and quality," says Cargill.
The firm claims the ingredient is particularly appropriate for use in products which are frozen, dried or heated, because one of its major functional properties is that trehalose stabilises protein function and structure.
When deep-freezing of fish, for example, protein cells in the fish can lose their structure. But injecting trehalose into the flesh during the process helps to keep the protein cell walls stable, so little humidity is lost, they claim.
The brand has a high glass transition temperature for a disaccharide, is non-browning, and will not hydrolyse at low pH or high temperatures.
This results in more stable colours and flavours in foods to which it is added, adds Cargill.