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Good News For Sweet Tooth

Eating sweets could be good for your teeth, according to a research study at the University of Otago.

Early results from a pilot trial at the University's School of Dentistry indicate that confectionery made using a special Manuka honey could help keep teeth healthy by inhibiting acid produced by oral bacteria. The research is regarded as a significant breakthrough in healthcare and has the potential to boost a growing honey industry.

The study follows on from work done by Technology for Industry Fellow (TIF) Ann Fjallman for Cambridge honey company Bee and Herbal. Ms Fjallman set out to investigate whether it was possible to use the known 'good' activity of active manuka honey as a substitute for sucrose and provide consumers with snacks that would not damage teeth.

Ms Fjallman was awarded a TIF Fellowship from Technology New Zealand, part of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, to carry out the study, which builds on the expertise of international honey guru Dr Peter Molan, based at the University of Waikato.

Dr Molan found that the UMF (unique manuka factor) found in only a few plots of a particular strain of manuka could produce superior active antibacterial benefits in honey.

Ms Fjallman's research set about finding a way to maintain this beneficial activity, while stabilising the honey into a commercially viable format.

According to Bee and Herbal Managing Director, Phil Caskey, the early research was crucial to the on-going success of the project.

"Processing honey without heating is easy, but its high sugar content makes it susceptible to mould and it is not stable. We've found a way to process it without damaging its properties and take that technology through to manufacturing three types of confectionery; freeze-dried honey which is moulded as toffee, spray dried, which makes tablet forms and honey mixed with a gelling agent and dried into thin chews."

Mr Caskey says the clinical trials are a breakthrough for the company, which exports almost all its honey-based products. The eight-year-old company is on a roll, doubling its turnover every year for the past four years, and on track to double it again within six months.

Its strategic association with raw material suppliers also fuels the company's growth rate and Mr Caskey says the technology developed in association with the University of Waikato and Technology New Zealand has allowed Bee and Herbal to get greater value out of the same resources.

-ends-

For more information:
a.. Phil Caskey, Bee and Herbal, 07 823 2496 or 025 422 451
b.. Lins Kerr, Technology New Zealand at the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, 04 917 7804, 025 962 581. www.technz.co.nz
Backgrounder
Technology New Zealand is a set of government-funded business support schemes that provide funding to support R&D projects in business. Around $35 million is available each year to help companies develop new products or processes, build human capital within businesses and provide access to information and expertise .Technology New Zealand is part of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology.

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