Functional confectionery is on the up, and the most recent invention in this field to gain a US patent is a chewing gum intended to prevent infection by the influenza virus. The patent has been assigned to Mitsui Norin Co of Tokyo, Japan. The gum includes at least 0.03% weight of tea polyphenol and contains no organic acids.

Protected under US patent number 6,248,346, the abstract reads:

A chewing gum which has a preventative effect against infection by influenza virus and inhibits dissemination of influenza virus. The chewing gum comprises adding at least 0.03 weight % of at least one tea polyphenol, for a chewing gum containing no organic acids; the chewing gum comprises at least 0.01 weight % of at least one tea polyphenol for a chewing gum containing at least one organic acid.

The first claim (of 4) is for:

A method for inhibiting infection by influenza virus and inhibiting dissemination of influenza virus which comprises administering to a person in need thereof a chewing gum containing at least 0.01 weight % of eqigallocatechin gallate in a mixture of tea polyphenols, and at least one organic acid in an amount up to 6 weight % to elute 2 ppm to 10 ppm of said epigallocatechin gallate into the saliva of said person during chewing of the gum.

To see full details of the patent, please click here.