"There is scope to improve healthy herbal extracts"

26 March 2014 | Interviews | By Nikita Apraj

Herbal medicines derived from the knowledge of Ayurveda are powerful instruments in maintaining health and strengthening medicinal knowledge.

Established in 1946, Taiyo Kagaku Corporation today is a $332 million company and global leader in development and production of functional ingredients for the food and pharmaceutical industries. With over 2,000 food and functional ingredients in its portfolio, Taiyo is driven by innovation. This Japanese company formed a joint venture with Lucid Colloids of India and CBC of Japan and set up a state-of-the art plant at Waluj, Aurangabad, in Maharashtra in 2004 to manufacture water-soluble dietary fibre and other nutritional ingredients.

Taiyo’s Sunfibre manufacturing facility at Aurangabad recently achieved an FSSC 22000 certification by Global Food Safety Initiative, adding another accolade in the company’s global accreditations. Taiyo, involved in extensive research on green tea extracts for 15 years, has launched innovative functional ingredients. Taiyo has recently published a book on latest developments in green tea polyphenols. In an interaction with NuFFooDS Spectrum, Dr Lekh Juneja, Executive Vice-President, Taiyo Kagaku, and Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) fellow, who co-authored the book talks about Taiyo’s achievements and Indian nutraceuticals industry. Excerpts:


Taiyo recently published a book on green tea polyphenols. What are the latest developments in this segment? 

Many studies have been focussed on green tea polyphenols for its long purported health benefits with convincing evidence that it has multiple preventive and therapeutic effects. Of the various polyphenols in green tea, Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is the most abundant and active compound which inhibits and modulates several essential survival pathways to block cancer progression.

While research in this area is continuing to expand on one hand, research on the role of other green tea polyphenols in health is gaining importance. As you mentioned, recently we published a book “Green Tea Polyphenols: Nutraceuticals of Modern Life”. This book presents many chapters written by global experts who are well recognised researchers in the area of green tea studies. Each chapter covers a specific scientific theme devoted to the biological and health properties of green tea polyphenols. Monographs reviewed the studies on cardiovascular disease, bone and muscle health, allergies, oral care, inflammation, nutrigenomics and proteomics and gut health. One can find clear and comprehensive information on the latest developments in the green tea polyphenols.


How green tea extracts can be applied into food? What is Taiyo’s contribution in this area?

In addition to numerous health benefits associated with green tea polyphenols, they can be widely used for food and cosmetic applications. However, its direct application in various foods has so far been limited due to their bitterness. Taiyo’s pioneering work is in the science and development of innovative ingredients such as less bitter green tea extracts without compromising on its health and antioxidant effects advancing its usage in various food, beverage, dairy and nutraceuticals.

In addition, the green tea polyphenols are gaining importance as natural preservative for use in various food and packaging industries due to their strong synergic antimicrobial and antioxidant activities.


Your Aurangabad facility achieved Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000. How will the certification benefit Taiyo?

Our Aurangabad facility Taiyo Lucid - an exclusive plant for the production of ‘Sunfibre’ - a soluble dietary fibre made from partially hydrolyzed guar gum - has attained FSSC 22000 certification. This certification adds to Taiyo Lucid’s impressive list of international global certifications, including ISO9001:2008, ISO22000:2005, ISO 14001:2004 and OHSAS 18001:2007 and is the third Taiyo’s facility to achieve GFSI-recognised certification, with its Yokkaichi, Japan, facility achieving SQF 2000 Code Certification in 2012 and Taiyo Green Power facility - Taiyo’s Sunphenon green tea manufacturing facility - achieving FSSC 22000 in June 2013.

These achievements in global safety standards further reaffirm Taiyo’s commitment in providing healthy natural ingredients made with highest safety standards.


India has a rich legacy of herbal medicine. How can we leverage this knowledge to develop nutraceuticals?

The herbal medicines derived from the knowledge of Ayurveda are indeed a powerful instrument in maintaining health and strengthening medicinal knowledge. Such herbs derived nutraceuticals could be food or part thereof to provide medicinal or health benefits including prevention and/or treatment of a disease.

Besides, modern lifestyle in urban communities involves various physical and mental stresses. The lifestyle and age-related diseases, whose onset and advancement are directly related to eating habits, could be conquered with proper nutrition and prevention. Nutraceutical-fortified food could play a great role as a preventive medicine for healthy living. Rich bequest of Indian herbal medicine is just begun to be explored as it is recognised as natural dietary supplements and capable to improve medical condition of humans.

Many companies have already been established in India producing several herbal ingredients and extracts. However safety of the products is in question due to limited information on the extraction methods, use of solvents and pesticide residues etc. We believe there is still large scope to improve in the science and development of safe and healthy herbal extracts and ingredients from India from its vast resource of natural herbal material.


What future trends do you see in Indian nutraceuticals industry? 

Fortunately, the recent economic growth and changing demographics in India with increasing awareness on health and the demand for fitness is slowly fuelling the domestic growth of the industry. India, bearing the large population of anemic and diabetic people and young people seeking good physical shape and beauty, the industry is expected to focus more in this direction.


What are the impediments in growth of nutraceutical industry? 

Inspite of vast resources and centuries-old knowledge in botanical, the nutraceutical industry is still at a miniscule 1% global share. Its growth was further hurt due to European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) negative approach on health claims of nutraceutical and herbal ingredients in Europe.

Growth of Indian nutraceutical industry market still largely depends on US and Western markets. Japan is a big market for nutraceuticals, but success for Indian nutraceutical industry is limited due to Japan’s limited awareness about Indian nutraceuticals and their demand for high quality and safety standards and strong scientific evidence. Fortunately, the recent nutra policy by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is expected to remove major hurdles in the use of nutraceuticals in food and supplements to expand the domestic growth.

Nikita Apraj

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