Ingredients maker DBS says PACran contains a unique type-A structure of the natural compound proanthocyanidin (PAC) found in cranberries and known for its "anti-adhesion" activity in protecting the body from the bacteria that cause urinary tract infections. Most other plants contain the more common B-type PACs.
The specialized cranberry ingredients maker says its new product has a standardized level for PACs and will be the new measure by which other ingredient makers follow, as it guarantees the amount of the active compound used in preventing urinary tract infections.
Cranberry producing giant OceanSpray also has a cranberry-based powder, Cranberry 90mx Powder, which contains 90 percent cranberry solids. However it is not clear how this compares to Decas' offering as it does not publicize PAC levels in its product marketing materials.
"While cranberries have long been associated with urinary tract health, there has been significant uncertainty in whether a person is obtaining the necessary amount of cranberry active compounds to maintain their health," said Doug Klaiber, DBS general manager. "PACran changes this scenario and will be the basis by which all cranberry products will be compared in the future."
DBS, a division of Decas Cranberry Products, developed PACran - which contains 1.5 percent of cranberry PACs - after years of research and development of the Early Black variety of cranberries that are high in PACs.
New Jersey-based ingredient supplier PLThomas is set to distribute and market PACran, which has market applications for finished products including nutritional supplements, functional foods and beverages, and dental hygiene products.
According to a 2003 study published in US journal Disease-a-month, urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the most common bacterial infection and accounted for nearly 7 million office visits,1 million emergency department visits and 100,000 hospitalizations in the US in 1997.
The potential market for PACran is thus very large, especially given almost half of all women will experience one UTI during their lifetime. The financial savings for health infrastructure are especially promising. The estimated annual cost of UTIs stands at approximately $1.6bn, said Betsy Foxman in the Disease-a-month article "Epidemiology of urinary tract infections: incidence, morbidity, and economic costs".
Pending results, DBS could stand to gain from studies involving PAC powder currently underway in the US.
The health benefits of cranberry PACs are currently being assessed in 14 separate studies at the National Institutes of Health in conjunction with the National Center for Complementary Medicine. The studies are examining the effect of a standardized PAC powder and juice for urinary tract infections, cardiovascular inflammation, oral plaque, and yeast infections.
Headquartered in Wareham, Massachusetts, Decas Cranberry Products has been in business since 1934 and today supplies more than 50 million pounds per year of cranberry product to consumers, retailers and the food industry internationally.