About Yeast Extracts

Do you know about yeast?

Since ancient times, humans have been learning to make clever use of microorganisms to enrich eating habits. Among these microorganisms, yeast has been very important in our diet, as it provide alcohol and aroma to beer, wine, whisky, sake, and other alcoholic beverages. Yeast is also the reason for the fluffiness of the bread we eat as a staple food, and it produces the flavors and odors of miso soy-bean paste and soy sauce.
In health food, yeast is commonly used to reinforce amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.

Torula yeast

For our yeast extracts, we use torula yeast, or Candida utilis. Since Germany started production of this yeast during World War I as a food resource and specifically as a source of protein, torula yeast has been used for food and feedstuffs.
Today, torula yeast is used as a dietary supplement in Germany. As the Food and Drug Administration(FDA) in the United States and European Food Safety Authority(EFSA) in Europe has recognized its safety, it is also used in a broad array of food products in many countries.

Yeast extract

Yeast extracts refer to the beneficial components of yeast extracted by autolysis or by treatment using enzymes and hot water. As principal ingredients, they contain amino acids, nucleotides, minerals, and vitamins and are used as food ingredients and microbial culture media.
According to the current classification of food and food additives, yeast extracts are classified not as a food additive but as food, like soy sauce and kelp extracts.

Refer to the Food and Agricultural Materials Inspection Center (FAMIC): Okina Me Chiisana Me, No. 62

Functionality and development of yeast extracts

Yeast exists broadly in nature, for example, on the surface of fruit, in tree sap, flower nectarines, in soil and in the sea.
Humans have been using yeast found in different kinds of very familiar food processing to establish a great food culture. Table 1 shows examples of the uses of yeast, which is used for instance in the production of Japan’s traditional fermented food such as soy sauce and miso soy-bean paste. We benefit from its capacity to generate alcohol in the production of sake, beer, wine, and other beverages. Yeast is also used in making bread. It has thus been used in food for a very long time and is regarded as being very safe. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved beer yeast, baker’s yeast, and torula yeast as scientifically safe.

Table 1: Examples of Uses of Yeast

Ingredients used Applications
Use of fungus bodies Fungus bodies Food, health food, functional feedstuffs, feedstuffs, drugs and fertilizers
Extracted Yeast extracts Food, health food, drugs, cosmetics, pet food, feedstuffs, fertilizers and culture media for plants and microorganisms
Refined Amino acids Health food, drugs and feedstuffs
Nucleotides (RNA) Food and health food
Saccharides (e.g. trehalose) Food (sweeteners, preservatives, etc.) and cosmetics (for moisture retention, etc.)
Fat and fatty acids
Vitamins (e.g.Vitamin B family) Health food and drugs
Provitamins (e.g. steroid) Health food and drugs
Coenzymes (e.g. NAD and CoA) Drugs (test agents), reagents and health food
GLUTATHIONE Drugs, cosmetics and health food
Physiologically active substances
Enzymes (e.g. lactase) Industrial applications for food production
Fermentation & metabolism Fermentation & metabolism Alcoholic beverages (e.g. beer, sake, fruit wine and whisky)
Sweeteners (e.g. erythritol)
Organic acids
Seasoning (e.g. soy sauce, miso soy-bean paste and fermented seasoning)
bread, pies and cookies

The yeast from which we produce extracts is primary yeast, which includes beer yeast as a by-product in the brewery industry, baker’s yeast grown with molasses and glucose, and torula yeast. Beer yeast and baker’s yeast fall under the category of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Characterized by active alcohol fermentation, this yeast is used for brewing beer, wine and sake and for making bread. On the other hand, torula yeast, or Candida utilis, has poor alcohol fermentation. With its rapid growth, it is used for producing nucleic acids and GLUTATHIONE. This type is also known as the yeast that matures soy sauce. Yeast extracts are food produced from yeast through enzyme decomposition and extraction, autolysis or hot water extraction. In recent years, the natural, safe, and authentic qualities have been emphasized in the field of food industry. Those yeast extracts that add a wide variety of flavors and that are stable in terms of quality and supply earn high marks, and are rapidly achieving a presence in the market. This may partly explain why yeast extracts are now firmly perceived as synonymous with natural food ingredients.
Yeast extracts contain amino acids, peptides, nucleotides, saccharides, and limited quantities of vitamins and minerals. Given that these components have diverse functions, yeast extracts themselves can be seen as functional food. Today, with a focus on these positive effects, they are being used as health food and health food material.