Taiyo, winner of Nutracon's best new product award, took an insoluble, poorly bioavailable iron and transformed it into a fully dispersed, highly bioavailable, non-irritable and palatable form
Many iron sources with excellent bioavailability can adversely affect product quality by accelerating oxidation, producing unfavourable colour or flavour and causing irritation of the gastrointestinal system. Fortification usually requires compatible and non-reactive iron compounds that have less so-called 'iron taste.'
Taiyo's SunActive Fe, winner of the best new product of the year at the Nutracon conference and Supply Expo/Global Supply Marketplace in March, is providing iron fortification solutions to manufacturers from Japan to Germany.
The unique technology was developed in 1998 for the Japanese dairy industry. SunActive Fe disperses insoluble iron (ferric pyrophosphate) in liquid formulations without precipitation, iron flavour or change in colour. It is stable against heat, salt, pH and oxidation. One rat study showed that the relative biological values (RBV) of iron sources per ferrous sulfate were 1.05, 0.78 and 1.00 for SunActive Fe, ferric pyrophosphate and sodium ferrous citrate, respectively. It is mild on the gastrointestinal system, providing a non-irritating iron fortification with superior absorption properties and bioavailability.
Its bioavailability is a key innovation. Taiyo's technology produces a well-defined, uniform and fine particle size, which is then stabilised using their emulsifying technology. The average particle size of SunActive Fe is 0.5µm, significantly smaller than a commercial ferric pyrophosphate of 5.2µm. Taiyo's unique emulsification technology enables the ferric pyrophosphate to remain in suspension in liquid products without precipitating out. The combination of the small size and emulsifiers makes a fairly non-bioavailable element to be bioavailable.
In a 2003 human study, conducted at the Institute of Food Science and Nutrition in Zurich, SunActive Fe had the highest relative bioavailability, with no statistically significant difference seen between a group of 20 healthy women who ate infant cereal and a yoghurt drink fortified with either ferrous sulfate or SunActive Fe, though there was a trend toward greater absorption in the Taiyo product. The results indicate a potential utility of using Taiyo's novel iron compound for food and beverage fortification.
Put It In Your Food
To that end, Taiyo's blend of ferric pyrophosphate, food-grade emulsifiers and processing aids are all considered GRAS by the US Food and Drug Administration. This will pave the way for use in iron-fortified milk, yoghurt, ice cream, soups, dressings, infant nutrition, sports drinks and dietary supplements. Such products are typically fortified with 1mg iron per serving.
Another common concern with iron is gastrointestinal upset. Instead of being absorbed in the stomach, where iron typically causes gastric intolerance, SunActive Fe passes through the stomach and is absorbed in the lower intestine via a slow release. While chelated irons also have this capacity, SunActive Fe is the only iron source on the market to address this and all other iron concerns.
In addition to being awarded best new product at Nutracon, SunActive Fe was also the recipient of the most innovative food ingredient award at Food Ingredients Europe and the Industrial Technology Award by the Industrial Research Association of Japan.