Morinaga Milk probiotic meets US safety demands

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Milk, Dairy product

Morinaga Milk Industry announced this week that it has obtained
self-affirmed generally recognized as safe (GRAS) certification for
one of its probiotic ingredients to tap growing demand in the US
for functional benefits in products.

The Japan-based group said Monday that the Bifidobacterium longum (BB536) was now safe for use following independent testing by a panel of scientists using research and toxicology data. While granting processors in the country the chance to use the product, which has been linked to improved bowel health, it could also open the way for further expansion into other global markets. A company spokesperson said that achieving the certification was a vital step in pushing the product, which is also approved for use under similar legislation in Japan, where it has been on the market since 1977. "Securing GRAS status in theUSunderscores our ongoing commitment to ensuring regulatory compliance for our global customer base, as well as our dedication to developing highly functional and safe ingredients,"​ they stated. Morinaga Milk added that over 50 scientific tests on the product had all linked (BB536) to enhancing intestinal health, as well as improving cell growth and preventing diarrhoea. The company has gone on to use the product for both milk and yoghurt-based products in the country. Morinaga Milk's push into the American market comes at a time of fast growth for the use of functional ingredients, according to market analyst Zenith international. By 2011 sales of functional dairy drinks across the markets of West Europe, United States and Japan are projected to reach 1,600 million litres and €6,250m in value by 2011, the analyst said. Zenith's 2007 Functional Dairy Drinks report said Western Europe is by far the largest of the three markets, seeing strong double figure growth in 2006. Europeans account for just over 56 per cent of the market. The US is experiencing year on year growth of around 50 per cent, albeit from a low base. America accounts for just 1.8 per cent of the market. Japan's volume share is "slowly being eroded", the report added. However, Zenith identified some difficulties ahead for the traditional global probiotic market, with sales of yoghurt shots enriched with the ingredient declining in some markets

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