Close

What you need to know about ICAAS

The International Council on Amino Acid Science (ICAAS) displays a proactive industry approach to safety of food/supplement ingredients. The organization is made from nine companies located across three continents and involved with amino acid production or use. For twelve years, ICAAS has been studying amino acids, their safety, specific uses and quality determinants.

As we all know from high-school, amino acids are simple molecules made from various combinations of amino and carboxyl groups. Twenty amino acids are the building blocks of protein and have numerous other physiological and nutritional uses. Amino acids probably originate from interstellar space. A recent analysis of a giant cloud of gas 25,000 light-years from Earth, near the center of our Milky Way Galaxy disclosed molecules that may have roles in the formation of amino acids. In spite of those cosmic and VERY old roots, amino acids are still being researched for novel medical and nutritional uses which will be discussed later.

What ICAAS is doing, though, is to explore and resolve scientific concerns related to all aspects of safety, quality and use of amino acids with particular emphasis on dietary use in humans

The organization provides funding for high quality clinical studies exploring the impact of excessive use of amino acids. Two of those studies have already well-established the safety profile of popular amino acids, L-leucine (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23077191) and L-tryptophan (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23616514).
Ongoing human studies are now being conducted with additional amino acids or in different conditions of use. But, managing clinical science alone is not enough and the organization is also bringing together regular and well-respected Amino Acid Assessment Workshops – the 9th one is coming up soon in Paris, France (Oct. 15-16, 2015). The Workshops provide the best possible platform for world medical and nutritional experts to discuss amino acid use and toxicology and make independent recommendations (i.e., http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23096009).

Moreover, ICAAS cooperates with other stakeholders to improve purity profiles of amino acids intended for human use. Those listed in Food Chemical Codex (FCC) are especially relevant. FCC is a compendium of internationally recognized standards for the purity and identity of food ingredients which applies both to national and international trade. Among others, ICAAS was instrumental in introducing a new analytical method to FCC amino acid monographs to prevent bacterial contamination.

Finally, ICAAS has been engaging with major stakeholders, especially national authorities that govern amino acid uses in human food and medical supply. The outreach has been usually in the form of scientific discussion and exchange of views with the aim to improve vertical legal tools that are necessary to provide sufficient, and sufficiently safe, amino acid products to the final users.

The next post will be more on what amino acids can do for you …

FIGURE TEXT:
Images from various ICAAS meetings with national bodies (Fig. 1, Vietnam; Fig. 2, Brazil; Fig. 3, China) and also from the latest Workshop (Washington DC).

 

Fig. 1 Fig. 2
Fig. 3 Fig. 4