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U.S. FDA approval eyed for canola proteins

A Canadian food research and development firm says it’s confirmed that its two canola protein isolates will meet U.S. safety standards as food ingredients — and will now see if U.S. regulators agree.

Burcon NutraScience, based in Vancouver with lab and technical facilities in Winnipeg, announced Tuesday that it has “self-affirmed” that its products, Puratein and Supertein, meet the GRAS (generally recognized as safe) requirements for food safety, as per an independent panel’s evaluation.

Meeting GRAS status, the standard set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for food ingredients to be accepted for use in foods and beverages, allows the two proteins to be used and marketed in various “mainstream” products for human consumption.

Burcon said in a release Tuesday that it expects Puratein and Supertein to take part in the “multi-billion-dollar” global market for protein ingredients, along with egg, dairy and soy proteins.

Puratein, Burcon said, has functional properties that include emulsification, gel formation, thickening, formation of heat-stable foams, and water- and ingredient-binding, making it potentially useful in foods such as dressings, meat substitutes, baked goods and protein bars.

Supertein’s properties include “excellent” solubility, the ability to form transparent solutions and foaming, which would make it useful in products such as beverages, confectionery, protein bars and “aerated” desserts, the company said.

“Nutritionally, the proteins are equally exciting with unique amino acid profiles,” the company said.

Burcon said its two products would be the world’s first commercial proteins derived from canola and the first to have attained GRAS status in the U.S. The company in 2003 signed a licensing and development agreement with agri-food giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) to develop such canola protein ingredients.

“Our combined team is focused on creating a competitive advantage for food and beverage manufacturers with these exciting new proteins,” Burcon president Johann Tergesen said in the company’s release Tuesday.

Burcon said its next step is to seek “GRAS notification” from the FDA. Under that process, the FDA would review Burcon’s GRAS findings and would respond with a “no-objection” letter if it’s satisfied with Burcon’s submission.

“It is important to note, however, that Burcon’s Puratein and Supertein canola proteins are considered GRAS from today’s date for the intended applications,” the company said.

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