The extract is a lycopene oleoresin produced from red ripe, lycopene-rich tomatoes with antioxidant properties. It is currently marketed as an ingredient in food supplements and as a food colour (E160d) within the European Union. A food is regarded as 'novel' if it has no significant history of consumption or use within the European Union.
LycoRed Natural Products Industries wants to market its lycopene oleoresin for use as a novel food ingredient in a range of food products, including yoghurts, cheese, bread, sausages and cereal bars, at a level of 5 mg of lycopene per serving.
The health-boosting antioxidant lycopene is a carotenoid that has attracted significant attention in recent years as it has been linked in some research to reduced risk for cancers, especially prostate cancer. New findings also suggest that it could have a protective effect on heart disease, the cause of more deaths among women than any other disease.
A recent report on the $348.5 million (€291.4m) carotenoid market from market analysts Frost & Sullivan revealed that the European food and health industry has 'under-utilised' the nutraceutical properties of carotenoids, and consumers are still unaware of their health benefits.
Frost & Sullivan claims that carotenoids are still used primarily as a colouring agent for the food and feed industries. Consumers in most European regions are unaware of their use as a food fortifier and this poor level of public awareness about the health benefits of carotenoids is expected to stifle market growth in the short term.
Currently, the European carotenoid market is forecast to grow to €349.3 million in 2010.
Moreover, the lycopene market is expanding significantly, with growth rates forecast at over 100 per cent. Frost & Sullivan value the ingredient at $34 million (€27.8 million) in 2003, and with growing demand, new sources of the nutrient will attempt to lift this figure further.
Antioxidants are important compounds that help protect plants and animals against the effects that stress (from disease or the environment) has on their biology and a wide range of chemicals has antioxidant properties.
Before any new food product can be introduced on the European market it must be rigorously assessed for safety. In the UK, the assessment of novel foods is carried out by an independent committee of scientists appointed by the Food Standards Agency, the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP).
Any comments on this application should be sent to the ACNFP Secretariat by 29 September 2004 and will be passed to the committee before it finalises its opinion on this novel food ingredient.