March 11 Senomyx Inc said the U.S.
health regulator designated its Sweetmyx food flavoring safe,
paving the way for customers such as PepsiCo Inc to add
it in drinks to reduce the use of sugar or sugar substitutes.
Senomyx shares jumped as much as 24 percent to their highest
in nearly seven years after the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration determined Sweetmyx to be Generally Recognized As
Safe (GRAS) under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
"The new Sweetmyx flavor ingredient will enable the creation
of lower-calorie beverages and foods that have reduced
sweeteners without sacrificing taste," Chief Executive Officer
John Poyhonen said on Tuesday.
Sweetmyx works by enhancing the characteristics of other
flavors such as sucrose or fructose, allowing for reduced use of
sweeteners in drinks.
Sugar-sweetened drinks are a significant source of extra
calories in the average American's diet and are closely linked
with weight gain, which often leads to illnesses such as
diabetes and heart disease.
PepsiCo has exclusive rights to use Sweetmyx worldwide in
all non-alcoholic beverages. Geneva, Switzerland-based Firmenich
has lifetime rights to commercialize the flavor for food product
categories and alcoholic beverages.
In the United States, food flavors are considered either a
food additive or are granted GRAS status, following testing by
Companies can also declare their ingredients safe based on
their own research or that of hired consultants. But the FDA has
the option to challenge such declarations.
Senomyx shares were up 15 percent at $10.81 in morning
trading on the Nasdaq. They have risen more than 240 percent in
the past year. PepsiCo shares were up 1 percent.
(Reporting by Aditi Shrivastava and Natalie Grover in
Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)