GRAS approval will aid commercial push of acrylamide-preventing yeast, says developers

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Yeast Maillard reaction Bread

Newly GRAS approved yeast technology should be commercially available soon
Newly GRAS approved yeast technology should be commercially available soon
GRAS approval of Functional Technologies' yeast strain should drive the push towards commercialisation and aid bakery and snacks manufacturers in the plight against acrylamide reduction, says developers.

US yeast specialist Functional Technologies has been given GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) approval from the US FDA for its acrylamide-preventing yeast strains. The firm filed its notice in February 2012.

The propriety yeast technology can be used to directly replace baker’s yeast in a range of bread and baked goods as well in yeast-free formulations across the snacks sector.

Geoff Lee, vice president (VP) of business development at Functional Technologies, said the GRAS approval is “an important standard to meet for many of the larger food producers in moving forward to commercial adoption”.

While not commercially available yet, the firm is testing with industry leaders in the EU, US and Asia, Lee told

The technology is available in a variety of strains to work across different applications including variable CO2 production, short time allowances for efficacy and formulations requiring inactive yeast, the VP said. It has been tested in bread and toast, biscuits, crackers and extrusion snacks.

“For recipes that already use baker’s yeast in their formulations it is a seamless exchange and a very straightforward and easy process to implement with predictable efficacy,”​ Lee said.

Non-yeast formulations have excellent results, he said, but are less straightforward so technical staff at Functional Technologies can work directly with such manufacturers.

The strains have been found to reduce asparagine and/or acrylamide by 90% or more.

Ridding acrylamide

Acrylamide is a suspected carcigon formed during the heat-induced reaction between sugar and amino acid asparagine (known as the Maillard reaction). The compound has been found to cause cancer in laboratory rats and industry has since worked hard to find alternatives and solutions to reduce levels in foods.

The new yeast strains from Functional Technologies work to degrade the asparagine immediately upon contact with other ingredients within the formulation, Lee explained.

While all baker’s yeasts are capable of naturally degrading asparagine, this product can achieve this without long extended contact times as required by other strains, he added.

Food industry executives have said the pressure to reduce acrylamide is an issue that is not going away, he said. “Both industry and regulators are sensitive to brand equity issues as well as potential contaminants and carcinogens affecting liability, brand value, and perceived consumer health risks.”

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