The official notice permits the ingredient to be used in cereal and protein bars, drink powders, isotonic ready to-drink beverages for persons above the age of 10 engaging in sports activities.
Other uses for betaine, which DuPont say helps prevent dehydration and aids a healthy metabolism, include cereal and protein bars, and foods for special medical purposes and/or total diet replacement.
“It is therefore necessary to inform the consumers with an appropriate label that foods containing betaine should not be used if food supplements containing betaine are also consumed on the same day,” says the EC.
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The EC’s T&Cs
Further conditions under which the novel food may be used for sportsmen include drink powders, isotonic and energy drinks (maximum level: 60 milligrams (mg)/100 grams (g)), protein and cereal bars (500 mg/100 g) and meal replacements (20 mg/100 g).
The ingredient’s use in total diet replacement for weight control is set at 500 mg/100 g (bar), 136 mg/100 g (soup), 188 mg/100 g (porridge) and 60 mg/100 g (beverages).
Additional specific labelling requirements include the designation of the novel food on the labelling of the foodstuffs containing it shall be “betaine”.
The EC also state that the labelling of foods containing betaine shall bear a statement that the foods should not be used if food supplements containing betaine are consumed the same day.
Evidence for betaine benefits
Betaine in anhydrous and monohydrate forms are obtained from processing of sugar beets (i.e. molasses, vinasses or betaine-glycerol).
Studies have shown that betaine is found in many healthy foods, such as whole grains, spinach and beets. It may also be an important component of the beneficial Mediterranean diet.
More recently, betaine has been the subject of a range of studies indicating health and sports performance benefits.
These human trials demonstrate a significant improvement in physical performance, especially in strength, power and endurance.
These studies, which use Dupont’s BetaPower Natural Betaine, points to improved body composition, performance and power of strength-trained men.
Six weeks of supplementation with BetaPower Natural Betaine were associated with improvements in bench press training volume and body composition, compared to placebo.
Meanwhile, one week of supplementation with DuPont’s betaine as part of a sports drink appears to help boost athletic power and performance by around 6%.