The application to the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) seeks to use the ingredient in food supplements and make health claims about its ability to combat metabolic syndrome - a collection of conditions associated with obesity and type-2 diabetes.
It was lodged by a Japanese distributor, CBC Co Ltd, that represents Japanese and American supplements manufacturers.
CBC marketing manager, Daichi Nozawa, told NutraIngredients.com Touchi extract is present in both foods and food supplements in Japanese and South Korean markets where it has Foods For Specified Health Uses (FOSHU) status although the extract has not yet been approved in China.
Products require FOSHU status in Japan and South Korea if they are to make the diabetes and blood glucose control claims that Touchi extract-bearing food supplements typically make.
In the US, Touchi extract has self-affirmed GRAS (generally recognised as safe) status and is available in food supplements products.
CBC's application states that it wishes to: "…market Touchi extract (TE) or fermented black bean extract, aprotein-rich product in powder form obtained by aqueous extraction of small soybeans thathave been fermented using the fungus Aspergillus Oryzae(also known as 'salted blackbeans') for use in certain specified food supplement products in the European Union."
It notes that the extract is similar in composition to black bean sauce which has been consumed for than 1000 years in China and is commonly found in Chinese cuisine across Europe.
One portion of black bean sauce contains 15g of fermented black beans, which corresponds to 4.5g of Touchi extract. It would be marketed as a food supplement as well as in tea/soup formulations.
The FSA noted that the ingredient contains an alpha-glucosidase inhibitor and would be marketed at anyone "who wants to slow the breakdown of carbohydrates."
In its 65-page application to the UK FSA's Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP), CBC noted that unlike the large soy bean, the small soybean from which Touchi is extracted has not been subjected to widespread genetic engineering and could therefore claim GM-free status, an important factor in GM-wary Europe.
The ACNFP Secretariat welcomes public comment on the application until August 18.
To view the full application click here.
Europe's Novel Foods regulation (EC No 258/97) was introduced in May, 1997 and requires any food or ingredient not commonly consumed in the EU prior to May 1997 to undergo safety assessment before it can be sold across the EU's 27-member bloc.