Thaumatin is a mixture of proteins isolated from the Katemfe Fruit (Thaumatococcus daniellii Bennett) which grows in West Africa.
Thaumatin is an aqueous extract obtained from the arils of the Katemfe Fruit (Thaumatococcus daniellii Benth) and is composed primarily of two proteins (thaumatin I and II). The first extraction of thaumatin happened in the 1970’s. Impuritiesconsist of minor amounts of plant parts, such as arabinogalactan and arabinoglucuronoxylan polysaccharides, left behind from the raw material. Those are normal parts of plant gums and mucilages.
Chemical Structure and Properties
Some of the proteins in the thaumatin family are natural sweeteners roughly 2000 times more potent than sucrose. The purified thaumatin for use in food is approximately 2 000 to 3 000 times sweeter than sucrose. Although very sweet, the taste profile is very different from sugar. The sweetness of thaumatin builds very slowly; the sweet perception lasts a long time and at high concentration, it has an aftertaste. Thaumatin is highly water-soluble and stable to heating and stable under acidic conditions.
Functionality in Food
Thaumatin is used as an intensive sweetener and flavor enhancer. It is more often used for its flavor enhancing properties than for its sweetness.
It is currently an authorized food additive in the European Union under Annex II of Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008. It may be used in several food categories, either as a sweetener or as a flavor enhancer. It is approved by the FDA for use in food as a flavor enhancer and is also described in the Codex Alimentarius.
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