National Starch seeks EU novel food status for dietary fibre

By Lindsey Partos

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Dietary fibre Starch National starch Nutrition Maize

National Starch seeks to tap into the growing dietary fibre market,
applying for EU approval of a resistant starch as a novel food

Phosphated di-starch phosphate is a modified resistant starch currently used as a food additive (E1413) in the EU as a freeze-thaw stable thickener in products such as soups, sauces, frozen gravies and pie fillings.

But the ICI-owned firm now proposes to market its phosphated di-starch phosphate, made from high amylose maize starch, as a source of dietary fibre for use as a novel food ingredient in a range of low moisture food products, including biscuits, pasta, bread, and ready-to-eat breakfast cereals.

With use levels and intake quantities expected to rise for this dietary fibre in parallel to the new market targets, National Starch must now apply for the novel foods status - under Novel Foods Regulation (EC) No 258/97​ - that pertains to "food ingredients with a new or intentionally modified primary molecular structure."

Before any new food product can be introduced on the European market, it must be rigorously assessed for safety.

In the UK, the assessment of novel foods is carried out by an independent committee of scientists appointed by the Food Standards Agency, the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP).

Most starches are digested and absorbed into the body through the small intestine, but some resist digestion and pass through to the large intestine where they act like dietary fibre and improve digestive health. This type of starch is called resistant starch.

Tapping into opportunities gleaned from the growing trend for health and wellness foods, the Hi-maize resistant starches from National Starch fit squarely into the low- glycaemic food trends, as well as health product positionings such as prebiotic fibre benefits and a healthy digestive system.

And with new opportunities come new gains. Ingredients companies looking to up margins are increasingly looking towards value-added ingredients, such as National Starch's resistant starch, and away from commodity ingredients.

According to recent report from SK Patil and Associates competing in the mainstream commodity starch arena - total global starch use is pitched at 48.5 million tons - is extremely difficult, particularly when it is not the commodities themselves that are the competition, but rather the functional characteristics of the value-added products.

When aiming at functional properties in starch, most commercial companies examine the characteristics of competitive starches in particular applications. This sets the target to shoot for, said Morton Satin in a report from the UN-backed Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Any comments on National Starch Food Innovation application should be sent to the ACNFP Secretariat​ by 19 September 2005, and will be passed to the Committee before the decision is finalised.

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