DSM gains GRAS for Preventase, counters safety fears
the US, gaining GRAS certification and becoming the first enzyme
available to eliminate 90 per cent of acrylamide in baked goods.
Acrylamide is a toxic substance, suspected to be a carcinogen in humans. It is formed as a result of a side reaction that takes place alongside the Maillard reaction and in the presence of asparagines, a reducing sugar (such as glucose) and heat. Until now manufacturers of baked goods have sought to reduce acrylamide formation in products by reducing either the sugar or the heat, but a spokesperson for DSM Food Specialties told FoodNavigator-USA.com that this can alter the taste of the product. DSM Food Specialties developed Preventase, an "asparaginase enzyme preparation" from the Aspergillus niger bacteria, which converts asparagines into another naturally occurring amino acid called aspartate. This means that the asparagine is no longer available for the acrylamide-forming reaction, leading to a reduction of acrylamide in foods like bread, cake, cookies, potato chips and cereals. The company has said that the levels achieved could "significantly lower the human intake of acrylamide". The company received GRAS (generally recognised as safe) status for Preventase in the last quarter. However it chose to communicate it at this time since, in the last couple of week, an article in a Dutch newspaper expressed uncertainty about the safety of the technology. The spokesperson told FoodNavigator-USA.com that she did not know where the concerns had sprung from. "We never had any concerns," she said. The FDA has said that there is no reason to question the safety of the enzyme preparation, based on the information on the enzyme component, production micro-organism and manufacturing process provided by DSM and other information it had access to. Moreover, the company draws attention to the long-time safe industrial use of the A niger organism, and that the strain has been used for producing a variety of other enzymes, one of which also has GRAS status. No products using the enzyme are on the market anywhere yet, but DSM's global launch strategy is to form strategic alliances with bakery companies, so as to share application knowledge. "We are talking to food companies in the US and Europe, but we cannot say where [the first launches using Preventase] will be," said the spokesperson. In most of Europe it is not necessary to seek regulatory approval for enzymes as processing aids. One notable exception to this France, where DSM has also filed a dossier.