Scientific panel approves safety of high dose lutein, zeaxanthin

Related tags Lutein Codex alimentarius Food additive

Scientists advising the UN food standards body Codex have
established for the first time a maximum safety level for the
carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.

The level is far above that used in much of the research on the ingredients to date.

The Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), the scientific advisory body to the Codex Alimentarius Commission, has set the 'acceptable daily intake' for the antioxidant ingredients, alone or in combination, at up to 2 mg per kilogram of body weight.

This means that for a 160-lb/72.6 kg person, approximately 145 mg of lutein/zeaxanthin would be considered safe.

"This is very good for customers that advocate high doses of lutein,"​ Diogo Martins, product manager at lutein supplier Kemin​, told

"We knew that doses of up to 30mg raised no toxicological issues but this finding further supports our knowledge. Together with our GRAS status in the US, this package strongly asserts our toxicological profile,"​ he added.

The retail market for lutein in Europe, most of which consists of supplements for eye care, is growing strongly, currently worth around €90 million, said Diogo.

He added: "We are registering a tremendous increase this year compared to last year",​ likely on the back of the latest research.

A study published in April found that lutein supplements can reverse some of the damage done by 'dry' age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most prevalent form of the disease.

Kemin has also received a letter of non-objection from the US Food and Drug Administration regarding the many food and beverage categories for which Kemin's FloraGLO brand lutein has achieved GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status.

"Our GRAS attainment was completed through a number of self-determination reviews, in which outside expert panels examine safety data. The FDA letter is yet more evidence of FloraGLO Lutein's safety as a food ingredient,"​ said Rodney Ausich, president of Kemin Foods.

JECFA's review of toxicological and other data on free lutein and zeaxanthin derived from marigold flowers (Tagetes erecta) was published in the committee's report from its latest meeting in Geneva during 8-17 June.

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