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Lactic acid improves stevia flavor, says Purac

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 15-Dec-2009

Purac has become the latest company to release a natural flavor masker to help drinks makers deal with the reported bitter or licorice-like aftertaste sometimes experienced with stevia sweeteners.

The company’s Purac Fit Plus ingredient is made from natural, purified lactic acid and Purac says that it can mask off-flavors associated with stevia, as well as with other high intensity sweeteners.

Category manager of taste and acidification at Purac Koen Kummel said: “Masking comes naturally with Purac Fit Plus. Carefully choosing your sweeteners and acids to deliver the optimal sour/sweet balance greatly improves the taste of beverages containing stevia (Reb A).”

Reb A is a high purity extract of the stevia plant, used in stevia sweeteners such as Truvia, PureVia and Good & Sweet.

Purac claims that its lactic acid ingredient works particularly well in combination with citric acid.

“The resulting beverage has a round, well-balanced taste and the flavor is boosted, leading to potential savings due to reduced sweetener and flavor usage,” the company said.

Purac, which has its headquarters in the Netherlands as well as offices around the world – including the United States – will make Fit Plus available globally. France became the first European country to approve the use of Reb A at a minimum of 97 percent purity in September.

In the US, almost as soon as the Food and Drug Administration’s non-objection that Reb A was GRAS (generally recognized as safe) was announced last December, flavor companies stepped up, with bitterness blockers, flavor maskers and sweetness extenders. Purac’s lactic acid is the latest in a long line of potential flavor solutions for manufacturers.

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Sensient Flavors released its customizable flavor ingredient Smoothenol for use with stevia-sweetened products in May and Cargill launched a range of flavor maskers and sweetness enhancers for use with the sweetener in April.

Back in February, Givaudan said that it was in the process of applying for patents related to what it claimed was its discovery of the bitter taste receptors triggered by the sweetener – technology that would form the basis of its flavor solutions for stevia.

Other flavor firms, including Symrise and Comax, have also developed ranges of bitter blockers, flavor maskers and sweetness extenders specifically for use with stevia. And Reb A supplier PureCircle joined with flavor company Firmenich in January, in order to capitalize on the ingredient’s potential as a flavor enhancer, as well as to speed its commercial use by using Firmenich’s flavor masking and sweetness enhancing technologies.

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