US FDA briefs Asia Pacific on Smarter Food Safety

At a recent global briefing, Frank Yiannas, the US Food and Drug Administration’s deputy commissioner for Food Policy and Response, addressed more than 200 attendees from 33 countries on the importance of traceability and transparency in food systems.

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Sugar produced from insect-protected sugarcane, as safe as sugar produced from conventional sugarcane

The United States Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concluded recently that raw and refined sugar produced from Brazil’s first genetically-modified sugarcane variety, called CTC20BT, is safe.

The US FDA focused its safety assessment on sugar, because it is the main sugarcane-derived product imported to the US from Brazil.

In addition to sugar refining, the Brazilian sugarcane sector uses sugarcane by products domestically to produce ethanol fuel for vehicles and to burn to generate electricity.

Centro de Tecnologia Canavieira submitted information and studies to FDA that showed that sugar produced from the insect-protected sugarcane was as safe as sugar produced from conventional sugarcane.

READ: New sugarcane nutrition manual provides the A to Z of growing a healthy crop

The insect-protected sugarcane was developed by Centro de Tecnologia Canavieira – a company focused on improving sugarcane varieties and technologies in Brazil.

The data also showed that the highly refined sugar was compositionally identical to sugar produced from conventional varieties.

The recent US FDA approval followed a similar approval for sugar from Health Canada earlier this year.

The sugarcane was first approved for cultivation in Brazil by CTNBio – Brazil’s National Biosafety Technical Committee, in June 2017, following a detailed review process.

The new variety developed by Centro de Tecnologia Canavieira, produces the Cry1Ab Bt protein to establish resistance to the sugarcane borer (Diatraea saccharalis), a major destructive pest in Brazil that causes damage and loss estimated at $1 billion a-year.

The Bt protein found in CTC20BT, has a long history of safe use and has been used widely in global agriculture for more than 20 years in biotechnology-derived crops like maize, and cotton, among others.

The FDA is the US government agency responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety of the nation’s food supply, as well as the efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices.

Centro de Tecnologia Canavieira is a 100 per cent national company focused on research, development, and marketing of varieties of sugarcane and other disruptive technologies.

It has as shareholders the BNDESPar and the main groups of the sugar-ethanol sector, representing more than 60 per cent of the production of sugar and ethanol in Brazil.

Japanese milk company immunogenic breakthrough

Morinaga Milk Industry has announced it has attained self-affirmed GRAS (generally recognised as safe) status in the United States for LAC-Shield, a unique immunogenic ingredient. This development opens the door for manufacturers of dietary supplements, functional foods and beverages in the US to include LAC-ShieldTM in products designed to enhance immune function.

Thanks to mounting research demonstrating the positive health benefits of probiotics, the probiotics market has experienced explosive growth over the past decade. In fact, according to Nutrition Business Journal, probiotics posted 17 per cent year-over-year growth from 2015 to 2016 in the US — the highest of any supplement category. BCC Research predicts the global market will grow to US$50b (A$67.3b) in 2020, as people’s awareness of and interest in healthful products continues to increase. However, the market is evolving beyond conventional probiotics to include metabolites of probiotics and non-viable microbes — called “immunogenics” or “immunobiotics.”

LAC-Shield (Lactobacillus paracasei MCC1849), widely recognised in Japan for its ability to enhance immunity, is one such ingredient. Unlike live cultures, LAC-Shield is rendered non-viable by heat treatment. Yet LAC-Shield still induces the production of a cytokine which activates and stimulates immune function.

LAC-Shield’s immune-boosting power was recently demonstrated in a human clinical study Morinaga Milk conducted with Kyushu Women’s University, which found it can lower the risk of contracting the common cold in susceptible subjects (Murata et al., Benef Microbes. 2018, in press). Another human clinical study, reported by Maruyama et al. (Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2016), found LAC-Shield may enhance the immune responses of the flu vaccine in the elderly with immunosenescence.

One of the most noteworthy aspects of LAC-Shield is the diversity of its potential applications. Usually, probiotics are difficult to incorporate into functional foods and beverages because of their intolerance of high temperatures and moisture. However, since LAC-Shield is pasteurised, it is highly tolerant of high heat and humidity, making it easy for manufacturers to incorporate it into a wide variety of products.

“In recent years, people have been demanding additional value and health benefits from the foods they consume. LAC-Shield has excellent potential to respond to those needs in the global market,” said Ko Shiino, general manager of the International Division at Morinaga Milk. “Achieving GRAS status enables LAC-Shield to be included in a wide variety of functional foods and beverages. We will continue our efforts to gain GRAS status for other probiotics in our portfolio so that we can contribute to healthier and brighter futures of people throughout the world.”

Morinaga Milk has a solid track record with GRAS ingredients. It attained GRAS status for its flagship probiotic Bifidobacterium longum BB536 (GRAS Notice No. GRN 000268) in 2007 and for Bifidobacterium breve M-16V (GRAS Notice No. GRN 000453 and GRN 000454) in 2013. BB536 is well-known for its stability, quality and wide-ranging functional effects, as shown by 160 scientific reports, including numerous clinical studies. M-16V is well-known for its strong safety profile and its efficacy in infants, having been used in more than 120 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) hospitals in Japan for low-birth-weight infants to support healthy growth. As a result, Morinaga Milk attained not only FDA-notified GRAS status for M-16V, but also GRAS status for infants.