Last week, Codex added zinc citrate to its Advisory List of Nutrient Compounds for Use in Foods for Special Dietary Uses Intended for Infants and Young Children.
The addition of zinc citrate to the list means Codex now considers it an acceptable source of zinc in infant formula, infant formula for special medical purposes, follow-on formula, infant cereal, canned baby food, and food for special medical purposes other than infant formula.
“We are confident that due to its specific benefits, zinc citrate could become a new important zinc source in infant formula and baby foods globally,” said Gerhard Gerstner, business development director for health and nutrition at Jungbunzlauer - the Swiss natural ingredients supplier that initiated the Codex approval process.
In a detailed dossier submitted to Swiss authorities, Jungbunzlauer highlighted benefits such as "high zinc content, superior bioavailability, and more neutral taste."
"Impact on formulation changes"
Zinc citrate is already approved for use in food for infants and young children, such as infant formula and follow-on formula, in the European Union (EU).
It is now approved as a zinc source in such products by Codex Member countries that subscribe to the Advisory List of Nutrient Compounds for Use in Foods for Special Dietary Uses Intended for Infants and Young Children.
“Approval in Codex is generally a good basis for reference and quicker approval in other markets," Gerstner told DairyReporter.com.
"The infant and baby food industry is rather a conservative industry, so that we expect an impact on formulation changes in favour of zinc citrate rather mid to long-term."
Jungbunzlauer unveiled its zinc citrate ingredient in 2008.
“When we started to produce zinc citrate we realized that the product was not well established in the food and nutritional industry – albeit its great features such as more neutral taste, high zinc content and health benefits," said Gerstner.
“That is why we financed on a human bioavailability study (which was not available before), formulation aspects and lastly also on the approval for important regulations.”
The study, published in the Journal of Nutrition in February 2014, concluded that zinc citrate in supplement form is "as well absorbed by healthy adults as zinc gluconate and may thus be useful alternative for preventing zinc deficiency and treating diarrhea."