The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has given preliminary approval to a novel ‘anti-hunger’ ingredient designed to be added to a number of dairy products including yogurt.
Following an assessment, the FSA’s Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) has found no safety concerns relating to the use of methyl cellulose as an additive in foods.
Switzerland-based Dow Wolff Cellulosics applied to the FSA earlier this year, seeking approval to market its own version of the carbohydrate derivative.
If approved, Switzerland-based Dow Wolff Cellulosics intends to use its modified version of the ingredient – SATISFIT-LTG – in a number of products including ice cream, flavoured milk drinks, cold desserts, yogurts and yogurt drinks.
Methyl cellulose is approved for use in the European Union (EU) as an emulsifier, stabiliser and thickener, but not currently as “dietary fibre.”
According to Dow Wolff Cellulosics, the “anti-hunger” ingredient has the effect of making people fuller for longer and eases hunger cravings.
No safety concerns
“The ACNFP has completed its assessment of MC as a novel ingredient to be added to a range of foods and did not have any safety concerns relating to this ingredient,” said the ACNFP draft opinion.
Methyl cellulose is a white powder that dissolves in cold water to form a thick solution that turns into a gelatin-like material upon heating.
Conventional versions of the ingredient pass through the stomach rapidly. The product in question, however, forms a gel at body temperature, which lingers in the stomach before passing into the small intestine.
The Committee did, however, raise concerns about children’s intake of the ingredient.
“The Committee did consider that the types of products to which MC is intended to be added may be particularly attractive to children which in turn may increase the potential for common intestinal symptoms in children.”
“As with previous applications for similar novel ingredients, the Committee suggested that foods containing MC are not intended for children”
The ACNFP also questioned the extent to which methyl cellulose is fermented in the large intestine and the “questionable role” of methyl cellulose in promoting satiety.
“The applicant provided a response to clarify these points,” the ACNFP assessment added. “The Committee was content that the applicant had addressed its questions in these areas,” the opinion said.
“The Food Standards Agency’s expert Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes has considered an application from a Swiss company for approval to market a carbohydrate derivative, known as methyl cellulose, as a novel food ingredient for use in a range of foods. Views are wanted on the expert committee’s draft opinion that this novel food ingredient should be approved for use,” said a FSA statement.
The ACNFP is now requesting views on its draft opinion, which will then be passed on to the committee when it concludes its assessment of the application.