The Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA) has launched GRAS 24 online (www. femaflavor.org), featuring materials 4430 through 4666. The publication also includes updated average use levels and average maximum use levels for citral (FEMA# 2303), parsley oil (FEMA# 2836), jambu oleoresin (FEMA# 3783), N-gluconyl ethanolamine (FEMA# 4254), N-lactoyl ethanolamine (FEMA# 4256) and cis-3-nonen-1-ol (FEMA# 4412). The list’s publication comes on the heels of the organization’s symposium celebrating 50 years of the GRAS process, which provided an opportunity for the industry to reflect on the safety assessment of flavor materials.
Flavor Modifiers: New Materials Demand New Expertise
The food and beverage industry’s response to the growing obesity epidemic in the United States and elsewhere is just one of the factors that have led to the increased application of flavor modifiers in flavors and foods. Many of these novel flavor modifiers have been developed based on the protein structure of taste receptors. This category has grown exponentially in recent years, presenting key challenges to the FEMA Expert Panel, which evaluates the safety of substances for use in flavor formulations. In comments during the organization’s symposium, Tim Adams, the scientific director of FEMA, noted that the panel has experienced an increase in the number of GRAS applications for flavor modifiers.
“[The panel] evaluates sensory testing data so that they can actually characterize the modification,” he explained. “They’re also careful to differentiate between flavor modification properties and other food functions such as sweetness and sour.” A number of times, he added, the panel has had to differentiate the levels at which a flavor modifier could be used based on the modification properties versus its sweetener properties. “And of course it’s not GRAS as a sweetener—it’s GRAS for use as a flavor modifier at a particular level,” Adams clarified. The pattern of use, together with metabolism and toxicity data, are key components of the GRAS evaluation.