German research initiative celebrates as new ingredients near launch

German research initiative celebrates as new ingredients near launch

A multi-million Euro initiative backed by the German government has hailed the ‘good news’ of being close to market for a number of natural flavour masking ingredients for food and nutrition applications.

A researcher working on a key nutrition project of a major German government backed initiative set up to develop a new generation of biological active natural food ingredients has hailed “good news” that they are close to bringing a number of taste masking ingredients to market.

The initiative, called Natural Life Excellence Network 2020, was set up by the German ministry for research and education (BMBF) to bolster the bio economy and find natural based solutions for industry applications, with a focus on foods.

The project, which kicked off in 2013 and involves 22 partners including industry, research institutes and universities, is now in its development phase, following a research phase. The alliance is co-ordinated by Brain, a German biotech company.

In total, the alliance is working on four key projects, one of which is called ‘bioactive nutrition’.

At approval process stage

Doctor Katja Riedel, a research scientist at Brain, who is heading up the ‘bioactive nutrition’ project told NutraIngredients: “We are at the approval process of a few ingredients for bitter masking.”

“The programme that I am leading is that we had the idea that we get new natural ingredients from edible foods.”

Working with Analyticon Discovery, a German supplier of natural compounds, such as from apple and ginger, Brain has established a model to see if these compounds have an activity which can be used as an ingredient, such as masking the bitter taste of reformulated foods, like in salt reduced foods.

“We have found new potential ingredients and we have just sent to them to the UK, to RSSL (Reading Scientific Services Limited). They have expert taste panels,” she told us.

The ingredients are also undertaking further toxicology testing ahead of coming to market, likely to be in the next few years.

“The really good thing is we use natural compounds. Nobody wants synthetic compounds in its foods. And so we are thinking we can use these ingredients for clean label products and I think this is the real big point which we can achieve.

“We will definitely have ingredients which are active and which will come to the market in the next years and they will be natural. This is good news,” doctor Riedel told us.

Importance of European collaboration

Doctor Riedel also heralded the benefits of working on a pan-European project such as Natural Life Excellence Network 2020.

“I think there are also other projects where a lot of companies and academia work together for food which is more healthy. I think we have to work together for this aim.

“I think in the UK they think about tax for sugar and there is also a great campaign for salt reduction. The solution will be active ingredients together with really good reformulation techniques.  This is really important to have numerous partners,” she told us.

Michael Krohn, unit head of BioActives at Brain, explained the cell system based on human taste buds that the company has developed.

“It focuses on the cells that are equipped with more than a dozen different bitter taste receptors. They can be propagated almost infinitely and stably in the laboratory,” he said.

“As a result, we have a cell-based  system with which a huge collection of natural substances can be found according to their taste modulators.”

Over the duration of nine years, the partners in the alliance will receive a total of around 20 million euros, around half of which is coming from the BMBF.

The other companies include Brain-owned Analyticon Discovery, Merck KGaA, and researchers from higher education institutes in from Munster, Gottingen, Potsdam the Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich.