The US-based Circle Group is to submit the high-fibre fat replacer Z-trim to the US Food and Drug Administration for classification as a GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) ingredient.
The company recently acquired Fiber-Gels Technologies, a technology holding interest that had previously licensed exclusive rights to the fat replacer from its developer, the US Agricultural Research Service (ARS), for this aim.
Circle Group plans to seek commercial food processors to help market Z-trim for use in dairy products, baked goods, ground meats, pasta, snack foods and nutritional drinks.
Z-trim is made from crop commodities such as oat, soybean or rice hulls, and was developed by ARS chemist George Inglett while investigating methods of turning crop components like fibre and starch into new, value-added products.
According to the ARS, the US Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency, Inglett has shown that Z-trim imparts many of fat's desired characteristics to foods, including the texture, "mouth feel," body and moisture retention.
The fat-replacer also adds no calories to food, it said, only insoluble fibre which aids digestion. The ingredient was named Z-trim when the ARS patented the invention in June 1998.
Demand for carbohydrate fat-replacers is rising, with forecasts predicting a $360 million market by 2004, added the ARS.