VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - March 15, 2011) - Functional Technologies Corp. (TSX VENTURE:FEB) (the "Company") is pleased to announce that its subsidiary, Phyterra Yeast Inc., has been awarded $2.5 million in non-dilutive funding from the Government of Canada's Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF) under the oversight of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA). The funds will support a fast-track project by the Company to develop and commercialize the application of its proprietary acrylamide-preventing yeast technology, Acryleast™, in the processed potato industry. This is a significant achievement, as Phyterra's funding application was selected out of numerous competing submissions after an intensive scientific peer-review process, highlighting the innovative strength, global commercialization potential, and value of the Company's technologies to the potato processing industry.
Acrylamide-prevention project supported by major potato processors
Reflecting the importance of Functional Technologies' yeast-based technologies as a potential viable solution to the formation of acrylamide in a variety of potato-based foods including battered products, major industrial potato processors expressed their keen interest in, and endorsed, this project and application. Sector-specific trials (e.g. baked goods and snack foods) conducted in Europe with the Company's acrylamide-preventing yeasts have demonstrated greater than 90% acrylamide reduction, providing proof-of-concept validation and a strong basis for translating the platform over to industrial potato-processing protocols.
"For multinational food companies, an important aspect to remaining competitive in the global marketplace is to adequately address the health and liability associations in the world's foods supply," said Howard Louie, Functional Technologies' chairman and CEO. "Functional Technologies is pleased to have achieved high efficacy with our acrylamide-preventing yeasts not only in the lab, but also in specific sectors in the industry. With this funding, we look forward to expanding that expertise into different sectors."
"It is very exciting to develop Acryleast™ for the processed potato market, one of the largest fast food markets in the world," said Garth Greenham, president and COO of Functional Technologies. "Considerable negative publicity has been associated with so many potato products that are consumed by millions worldwide on a daily basis. To be able to improve the safety profile of such a large and global industry is rare, and we are delighted to advance our novel yeast technologies as an effective solution."
A known neuro-toxicant and a World Health Organization (WHO) Group 2A carcinogen, acrylamide is a naturally occurring byproduct formed during the production process of many popular foods, including French fries, potato chips, bread and other dough products, baby food, coffee and breakfast cereals. It has also been linked to developmental and reproductive toxicities. Acrylamide arises from the reaction of two naturally occurring ingredients, the amino acid asparagine and reducing sugars (i.e. starches like glucose), at temperatures over 121C (249F) such as in baking, toasting or frying.
Project aims to replicate baked goods acrylamide-prevention in processed potato products
Functional Technologies' Acryleast™ accelerates the natural ability of yeast to consume asparagine, preventing the formation of acrylamide in the processing of baked foods and potato products. Adoption of Acryleast™ is expected to be relatively seamless in the production of bread and other baked dough products. This funding from the Government of Canada will enable Functional Technologies to develop, validate, and maximize the performance of Acryleast™ in various processing protocols for potato foods and snacks. Methods that attempt to counter the formation of acrylamide include changing the cooking time and/or temperature; however, these are considered less effective and potentially compromise the sensory profile of the final product. Newer solutions have been shown to be successful in the laboratory setting, but the use of these in commercial and industrial scale has proved difficult and expensive.
Global attention was drawn to this chemical in 2002 when scientists from the Swedish Food Administration reported unexpectedly high levels of acrylamide in a variety of widely consumed foods. In response, numerous environmental, governmental and other public interest agencies or committees worldwide have listed, or launched major initiatives to investigate, acrylamide as a carcinogen and/or reproductive toxicant of concern, or toxic substance. These include the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the European Chemical Agency (ECHA), Health Canada, the U.S. Food and Drug Agency (FDA), and California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA).
California's Proposition 65, a state law requiring businesses to warn citizens of exposures to officially listed toxic substances with the goal to reduce or eliminate exposures to those substances, has similarly recognized acrylamide as a chemical known to cause cancer, and more recently (in February 2011), developmental and reproductive toxicity. This has provided a platform to incentivize businesses and industries to reformulate their products, or be active in efforts to reduce levels of toxic chemicals, such as acrylamide, that are covered by Proposition 65. California's State Attorney Office and several private-interest groups have previously filed lawsuits claiming a number of U.S. food manufacturers and restaurant chains were in violation of Proposition 65, arguing that food companies should label products containing high levels of acrylamide, as well as implement reduction policies.
About Functional Technologies Corp.
Functional Technologies develops and commercializes proprietary, advanced yeast-based solutions to significant challenges in the food, beverage and healthcare industries. The Company's platform improves the performance of innate yeast functions, and prevents the formation of naturally occurring toxins and contaminants that either affect final product quality or are classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as probable human carcinogens. Functional Technologies' lead technologies include yeasts that prevent and reduce the formation of the foul-smelling hydrogen sulphide (H2S) and the carcinogens acrylamide and ethyl carbamate (more commonly known as urethane), by-products of food and beverage processing. These contaminants are found in many commonly consumed items, such as fermented products and alcoholic beverages, and baked and fried foods. With a head office in Vancouver, Functional Technologies Corp. has R&D operations in Prince Edward Island and Europe, as well as a U.S. sales office in Napa Valley, California. For more information, please visit our website at www.functionaltechcorp.com.
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