But red wine wonder should not get GRAS status, says supplier
Scientists have uncovered evidence that low doses of the red wine polyphenol resveratrol could slow down the ageing process by protecting the heart — but one supplier of supplements containing the substance has warned against rushing to approve it as a mainstream functional ingredient for inclusion in food and drink products.
A team of US researchers discovered that when mice were fed a low dose of resveratrol — 4.9mg kg day — it conveyed similar benefits on their cardiac health as were observed in another group of mice fed a low-calorie diet. Previous studies had shown similar benefits — but in much higher doses.
The researchers wrote: "Our studies suggest that dietary consumption of a low dose of resveratrol partially mimics calorie restriction and inhibits some aspects of the ageing process."
But Bill Sardi, of Las Vegas-based Resveratrol Partners, which markets the Longevinex dietary supplement containing the polyphenol, urged a cautious approach in the wake of the findings.
"The latest study shows that far lower doses than previously reported appear to affect the genomic response in a similar manner to a calorie-restricted diet," he said.
"There will be a predictable frenzy to add resveratrol to beverages, energy bars and other foods, but resveratrol should not be given GRAS [generally recognised as safe] status as it has anti-growth factor properties and could induce anemia, and would not be appropriate for growing children or pregnant females in doses greater than found in wine."
Conferring GRAS status on resveratrol would open the way for a flood of foods and beverages containing the ingredient. Non-GRAS substances can still be put into food products — but must carry a supplements-style facts box on packaging instead of a food-style nutrition facts box — and be labelled as a nutritional supplement.