Typically, the gelatine used in many vitamin supplements to protect them from light and oxygen and also improve their handling properties is replaced by soy protein for supplement makers looking to reach the vegetarian or kosher market.
However use of soy or other proteins means supplement makers will have to warn consumers of the presence of allergens under new legislation being enforced in Europe from November and set to come into play in the US early next year.
BASF says it is the first to develop directly compressible formulations that are both vegetarian and allergen-free, giving supplement makers an option that avoids all potential consumer concerns.
"Currently on the marketplace there isn't any formulation at all that combines these benefits," Kai Sievert, responsible for marketing the group's dietary supplement range, told NutraIngredients.com.
"Gelatine is a very good formulation aid and inexpensive so it is quite complex to formulate around it," he added.
The new technology uses a modified starch commonly found in food products (E1450) to replace the porcine gelatine in its dry vitamin E acetate 50 per cent and beta-carotene 10 per cent.
The products, sold at a price premium of about 10 per cent, are just as stable as the standard products in bulk and multi-vitamin tablets produced by direct compression.
The beta-carotene has also been tested for bioavailability.
"The challenge for beta-carotene is to guarantee stability and the pro-vitamin A activity. We have demonstrated this in an animal model," added Sievert.
BASF has also shown its bioavailability in a human study.
The German company estimates the global market potential for beta-carotene 10 per cent at more than 100 tons a year, while vitamin E could be two to three times bigger.
The new technology could be used for other vitamins produced by the company.
"There is definitely a need. It is under evaluation," said Sievert.
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