MTHF Following the publication of a draft assessment report, which included a risk assessment, FSANZ is recommending that Merck Eprova's application for L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate, calcium (MTHF) be allowed in food products that are fortified with folate on a voluntary basis. At the moment, the only form of folate allowed to be added to foods is folic acid. This means that approval of MTHF - if granted following the stakeholder consultation - would not only open up a new market for the ingredient, but also give manufacturers a choice in the form they wish to use. The ingredient is already approved in other regulatory bailiwicks, including Europe, and has been seen to be more bioavailable to humans since it is already in the form in which folate occurs naturally in foods and in the human body. Folic acid, on the other hand, has to be converted by the body before it is of use. While there are fears that folic acid supplementation may mask B12 deficiency, particularly in the elderly, MTHF is said to be much less likely to do so. FSANZ is planning to introduce mandatory folic acid fortification of breads made from wheat flour in September 2009, in a bid to reduce incidence of pregnancies affected by neural tube defects. If Merck's application gets the green light, MTHF would be able to be used in cereals and cereal products, breads, pasta, extracts of meat, vegetables or yeast, vegetable juices and beverages, analogues of yoghurt and dairy desserts and formulated beverages up until September 2009. After that date, it would not be allowed for use in wheat-flour bread. Ferric sodium EDTA FSANZ is also recommending approval of Akzo Nobel's request for its ferric sodium ethylenediaminetetraacetate (EDTA) to be allowed in foods where iron fortification is currently permitted. Akzo Nobel claims its ingredient has superior biological and technical properties to iron. It is said to be less reactive than other forms of iron, and does not form off-flavours or colours, nor it react with the flavours in the food or beverage product in the way that unstabilised iron can. Akzo Nobel has also shown that wheat flour fortified with Ferrazone copes much better in storage than when other forms of iron are added. The ingredient has already been approved for use in Europe for use in dietary supplements, but approval for food use is pending with the European Food Safety Authority. The company hopes to receive food approval in the first half of 2008. It has also been used in fortification programmes in developing countries; it is recommended by the World Health Organisation for the iron fortification of whole grains and high peptide sauces like fish sauce and soy sauce. Following its assessment, FSANZ has said it does not find any public health or safety concerns to EDTA's use in biscuits, bread, cereal flours, pasta, extracts of meat, vegetables or yeast, analogues of meat derived from legumes, and formulated beverages, meal replacements, supplementary foods, and supplementary sports foods. Iron is already allowed to be added to these kinds of products. Akzo Nobel had originally proposed that ferric sodium EDTA also be allowed for use in breakfast cereals and supplementary foods for children aged one to three years. However FSANZ said exposure estimates indicated that total exposure to EDTA would be likely to exceed acceptable levels if the ingredient were used in all the proposed food categories. The company therefore chose to remove the two food categories from its proposal. Acrylaway FSANZ is intending to approve Novozymes' enzyme Acrylaway as a processing aid in certain food products to reduce formation of acrylamide, and is seeking stakeholder comments before it gives the final green-light. Acrylamide is a suspected carcinogen that is formed during by heat-induced reaction between sugar and an amino acid called asparagine. Known as the Maillard reaction, this process is responsible for the brown colour and tasty flavour of baked, fried and toasted foods.Acrylaway is an asparaginase from Aspergillus oryzae. It convert free asparagine into aspartic acid, another animo acid that does not form acrylamide. The nutritional properties are unaffected, and so are the browning and taste aspects. Acrylaway needed no approval for use in most EU countries since no approval is currently required for processing enzymes. Novozymes has been granted approval for the two exceptional European markets, France and Denmark, as well as the USA. Calcium in gum FSANZ is supporting a proposal by The Wrigley Company that the code be amended to allow calcium to be added to chewing gum that contains no more than 0.2 per cent residual sugars. "FSANZ supports this application because it would provide consumers with an additional source of calcium in their diet and may provide consumers with short-term dental benefits," said the authority. It has found no grounds for safety concerns. More information on the proposals and how to submit comments can be found at www.foodstandards.gov.au Comments may be submitted until February 6 2008.