A black bean extract said to offer weight management benefits has overcome the first major hurdle to gaining acceptance under the European Union's Novel Foods process.
The UK's Food Standards Agency issued a draft positive opinion on Touchi extract following an application for approval filed by Japanese company CBC in July 2008.
The ingredient is a protein-rich powder extracted from the fermentation of small soybeans with the fungus Aspergillus oryzae. It contains an alpha-glucosidase inhibitor said to slow the breakdown of carbohydrates and thereby enhance satiety.
CBC plans to market the ingredient as a food supplement and a tea/soup style formulation at levels that would not exceed 4.5g per daily serving/dose.
The FSA said: "The extract is similar to black bean sauce, which has been on the market in the European Union for many years. One portion of black bean sauce contains 15g of fermented black beans, which corresponds to 4.5g of the novel food ingredient on extraction." The FSA's draft positive opinion will now go out to consultation.
Under EU rules a novel food is a food or food ingredient that does not have a significant history of consumption within the European Union before 15 May 1997. Anyone who wishes to market a substance that falls into this category must first prove it is safe. The process is separate from the health claims approval process.