ERJ staff report (DS)
Cork, Ireland -- Professor Elke Arendt of University College, Cork has patented a process for creating biodegradable chewing gum, by replacing the rubber base with cereal proteins. She is looking for companies who might be interested in commercialising the product.
Chewing gum is made from synthetic rubber -- often butyl rubber -- softeners, sweeteners and flavourings. The elastomers are stretchy, have strong adhesive properties and are resistant to many chemicals used for cleaning. Reducing the stickiness of chewing gum requires a change in the chemical structure of its rubber base. However, the rubber base also determines commercially important features such as flavour, chewiness and shelf- life. The challenge for the food industry is to develop a non-sticky, chewy biodegradable gum with all the flavour of conventional gum.
Prof. Arendt has replaced the rubber with cereal proteins. These natural proteins are modified using technologies and ingredients that increase the elasticity of the cereal proteins so that they can be used as a base material for the production of chewing gum.
The original idea came from other research work of Professor Arendt in the area of gluten-free cereal products, where the wheat needs to be replaced by other proteins with visco-elastic properties.
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Press release from University College, Cork