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FIIRO unveils technology for industrial sweeteners extraction

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Dr. Gloria Elemo

To reduce importation of some sweeteners used for industrial production, the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO) has developed simple process technologies for commercial extraction and optimization of high grade Thaumatin and Miraculin, a low calorie sweetener and flavour modifier.

The Director-General, FIIRO, Gloria Elemo, said this move was apt considering the fact that global high intensity sweetener both natural and synthetic market was estimated to be close to $1.3 billion in 2008 and is expected to quadruple by 2021.

Elemo stated this at the opening ceremony of the International conference on alternative sweeteners tagged “Harnessing of the economic potentials of Thaumatin (Thaumatococcus danielli) in Africa”.

She said attention is shifting to sourcing of alternative sweeteners mainly non-nutritive phyto chemicals from plants in order to close the gap between the production and consumption of sweeteners, sweetening and flavour enhancers.

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According to her, there is increasing large segment of the population with special dietary requirements containing non-nutritive sugar, such as the diabetic patients, pointing out that over the past few decades, non-nutritive sweeteners have been gaining significance and are expected to develop into a major source of high potency sweetener for the growing natural food and pharmaceutical markets.

She added that in Nigeria, there is a huge gap between sugar production and consumption, saying this represents a serious problem since an estimated amount and quantity of 2.5 million tonnes will be imported to meet local demand.
She said almost all the commercially available sweeteners for industrial and domestic use in Nigeria are imported, stressing that the commercial sweeteners sugar, saccharin, acesulfame K, cyclamates, and the likes, aside from non availability and high cost, all have their attendant negative health implications.

“On the account of this, FIIRO as an organization has over a long period of time been involved in herbal programmes and project for sweeteners, medicines, spices, condiments, nutraceuticals, foods and functional foods. FIIRO also have well-established medicinal aromatic and pesticidal plants research laboratories for research and development activities,” she said.

Also speaking at the event, a Director, Raw Materials Research Development Council (RMRDC), Muhammed Musa, said the council has a scheme called strategic projects to develop the nation through industrial technology, pointing out that thaumatin is a focal point of the scheme.

He stated the need to have plantations to domesticate the plant, adding that the council had also put in place different initiatives for processing the plant for commercialization.

The keynote speaker, a professor in the University of Zuzuland, South Africa, Prof. Bidemi Kappo, said the aim of the conference was to seek partnership between Nigeria and South Africa to bring some of the products that can be used to achieve a healthy population.


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