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“Secret” Yeast Additive Gets GRAS Approval

Acrylamide-preventing yeast strains might not sound like something worth celebrating, but do not tell that to the folks at Functional Technologies Corp.

Acrylamide is a known lethal neurotoxin that sometimes occurs in cooked starchy foods, which causes some concerns about carcinogenicity of those foods.

The Canadian firm’s recent experience shows how an important public safety designation can be obtained without giving up any trade secrets.

The Vancouver, BC company’s has won the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s designation of “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS, for its acrylamide-preventing yeast strains.

Any substance that is intentionally added to food must be subjected to FDA’s premarket review and approval unless the substance is recognized as GRAS, meaning that among experts it been shown to be safe for its intended use.

There’s always an electronic lineup of substances seeking FDA’s acceptance as GRAS. Functional Technologies was in that line with acrylamide-preventing yeast strains since February.

“The food industry, in multiple product categories such as bread/baked goods and numerous snack food and cereal products, now has the means to significantly and efficiently minimize acrylamide in the manufacturing of their products,” says Dr. John Husnik, senior scientist at Functional Technologies.

Carlos Barroso, who serves on the Functional Technologies advisory board, explains: “Acrylamide mitigation is an ongoing challenge for many food and beverage products. The introduction of this proprietary yeast offers a unique approach for reducing acrylamide and will help food and beverage manufacturers with the challenge.”

Use of this product can achieve a 90 percent reduction in acrylamide in baked bread with other applications in snacks and extruded food production.

The process FDA uses allows for companies to get GRAS status for products while still protecting proprietary information covered by patents, copyrights and other legal protections.

Functional Technologies said that in its GRAS submission, it provided experimental data to support of its claim that its proprietary acrylamide-preventing yeast should be viewed as safe for consumption.

The company’s yeast has now joined such products as baker’s yeast and other commercial yeasts on the GRAS list.

“This acceptance of our proprietary acrylamide-preventing yeast as GRAS by the FDA is a major milestone for our company,” says Howard Louie, Functional Technologies’ Chairman and Chief Business Development Officer. “The FDA’s validation is recognized worldwide and should greatly assist us in our global development, marketing and sales efforts in the various food sectors that we have been working with as we move toward commercializing our proprietary acrylamide-preventing yeast platform.”

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