Beta-carotene is a natural antioxidant found in certain fruits and vegetables and is said to help protect healthy cells from free radical damage. Beta-carotene as such clearly does not pose any BSE risk to humans, but supplements containing the antioxidant can often be made using beef gelatin as an excipient, meaning that vegetarians and other consumers wishing to avoid beef-derived products are restricted in their access to such products.
DSM claims that it has produced the world's first non-gelatin, vegetarian-approved beta-carotene beadlet, derived, as is the rest of the CaroCare range, from the naturally occurring micro-organism Blakeslea trispora. Containing 7.5 per cent natural beta-carotene, the vegetarian beadlets are said to match the processing profile and performance of their gelatin-based counterparts, with excellent flow properties for easy handling, good particle size distribution and high strength during tableting - with resistance to pressures up to 63 tons per square inch.
"For the dietary supplement manufacturer, confidence in a consistent product is a very important aspect," the company said. "If beta-carotene leaks from the tablet it becomes exposed on the surface, resulting in oxidation and content loss. Tablets also appear less attractive and appealing.
"Key here is the micro-encapsulation technique perfected by DSM which determines beadlet quality. DSM beadlets are resistant to high pressures during tableting and do not show signs of leaking or extrusion. Significant cost savings can be made as manufacturers do not need to add contingency levels of beta-carotene to compensate for potential losses."
Designed for use in the production of single beta-carotene, multi-vitamin, antioxidant and (mixed) carotenoid tablets or two piece hard shell capsules, CaroCare 7.5 per cent vegetarian beadlets can also be labelled non-GM, kosher and preservative-free. DSM's CaroCare range is cultivated in large-scale fermentors using raw materials of vegetable origin.