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Japan finally gives green light to sales of sunflower lecithin

30-Apr-2014

Cargill has obtained approval for the use of sunflower lecithin in Japan, which until now had been the only country in the world where the additive had not previously been approved for food applications.

Approval by Japan’s Ministry of Health Labour and Welfare means that Cargill’s Topcithin sunflower lecithin, a clean label non-GM emulsifier made from oilseeds for which GM plant varieties do not exist at a commercial level, is available to customers in Japan for the first time. It also means food companies worldwide can export products containing Topcithin sunflower lecithin for sale in the growing Japanese market.

As sunflower seeds are not among the common causes of food allergy, the ingredient is not subject to allergen labelling requirements, unlike soy-derived varieties. The approval process took three years to complete. 

Cargill’s Chris Hollebeck said the approval was a landmark for the company: “Until now Japan was the only country where sunflower lecithin had not been approved for food use, so businesses in this market and those exporting to Japan were missing out on this natural and safe alternative to soy lecithin

First introduced in 2008, Cargill’s Topcithin sunflower lecithin is derived from European sunflower crops and produced in fully backwards-integrated facilities to minimise risk of cross-contamination, traceable from field to fork.

A versatile emulsifier and wetting agent, the additive is suitable for a variety of food applications, such as confectionery, particularly chocolate, bakery and convenience foods. Cargill claims Topcithin offers improved dispersibility properties compared to soy lecithin, and matches its functionality, taste and colour. 

It can also replace synthetically produced emulsifiers, such as ammonium phosphatide and citric acid esters of mono and di-glycerides.