FSANZ invites public comment on use of GM-derived enzyme

By Nilpa Shah

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Enzyme Food standards australia new zealand

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) are currently in the process of reviewing an application regarding the use of a GM-derived enzyme as a processing aid.

The application, which was put forward by Dutch company DSM in April, proposes an amendment to the Australian and New Zealand Food Standards Code (FSC) in order to allow the use of an enzyme, amylomaltase, to be used as a food processing aid.

The enzyme has been sourced from GM Bacillus amyloliquefaciens ​and is intended to be used primarily in the dairy sector. According to DSM, the enzyme, which converts glucose to produce modified potato starch, has “excellent thermo-reversible gelling properties which enables it to mimic fat​.”

DSM have therefore stated that its proposed use will be as a substitute for fat in yoghurts, ice cream, cheese analogues and low fat spreads.

Wouter Smits, global marketing manager of food and beverages at DSM, told FoodNavigator-Asia.com that the enzyme is already in use in Europe, the US, Latin America and Canada, and its success there is what prompted DSM to apply for its approved use in Australia and New Zealand which are considered to be “comparable markets​.”

He believes that this enzyme will be “widely-used​” in Australia and New Zealand, upon authorisation, particularly in the dairy industry which he said is “even more innovative than in other parts of the world​.”

Smits points out that the supplier is also seeking approval for the enzyme in Indonesia, China, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Pre-market assessment

It is obligatory to carry out a pre-market assessment, in accordance with the FSC, before any approval of a processing aid can be made.

FSANZ have subsequently assessed the enzyme and released a report which indicated that it posed no public health or safety issues. It also added that the enzyme “is effective as a processing aid in the production of modified potato starch​.”

FSANZ invites public comment

Upon completion of the pre-market assessment, FSANZ is now calling upon government agencies, public health professionals, industry and the community in general to provide written submissions on the application.

The period for submitting comments will be open for six weeks, which Lydia Buchtmann, spokesperson for FSANZ, says is part of the organisation’s “very open process​” when it comes to amending food standards.

If the application receives the expected approval from FSANZ, the enzyme, as it is deemed to be a processing aid, will not have to be declared on food labels.

Future potential

FSANZ’s assessment reports demonstrate that it believes there is greater future potential in this enzyme, beyond its usage in the dairy industry.

It writes that the enzyme could possibly also be used as a replacement for certain other ingredients such as gelatine. According to FSANZ, this would then increase the choice of alternatives available to consumers.

Furthermore, it would allow greater access for food manufacturers to the kosher, halal and vegetarian markets, said the agency.

DSM's Smit points out that the enzyme is “versatile​” and its use can therefore be extended to other markets such as fruit and jam, mayonnaise as well as savoury meat sauces and chewable confectionary.

FSANZ is due to make its decision about whether to approve the enzyme and amend the FSC in late May next year.

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