Degradable gum base gains EFSA novel foods approval

A new synthetic polymer for use as a chewing gum base has received a positive novel foods opinion from EFSA, bring the technology for less sticky gum that breaks down within months closer to the market.

While chewing gum is a perennially popular confectionery product, with global sales forecast to reach $20.7bn by 2015, it also presents a major headache for local authorities as discarded gum leaves stains on streets and can block public drains.

Called Rev-7, the new base is a synthetic polymer that looks to be a solution for manufacturers looking to cater to demand for chewing gum but without the associated environmental problems. It was developed at Bristol University in the UK by Professor Terence Cosgrove, who subsequently set up a company called Revolymer to commercialise it.

The gum base consists of branched polymers of monomethoxypolythylene glycol (MPEG), grafted on to polyisoprene-graft-maleic anhydride (PIP-g-MA) and unreacted glycol.

Pettman has said if gum made with Rev-7 goes down a drain it degrates within 2 to 3 months; on pavements it takes under two years. Over time the gum starts to crack, goes like a spider’s web and disintegrates into pieces.

Although gum formulas would need to be tweaked, the polymer was a “drop in”  in terms of manufacture and required no additional investment. The cost of production, Pettman said, works out to around eight to nine cents per pack of gum, compared to the six to nine cents required to make regular gum.