Astaxanthin seeks EU approval

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union

Indian company Parry Nutraceuticals has applied for a version of the algae-derived carotenoid, astaxanthin, to be granted Novel Food ingredient status in the European Union.

The application for its ingredient called AstaNatural was lodged recently with the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) which opened a consultation period on the application that expires on March 1.

Parry Nutraceuticals said AstaNatural was substantially equivalent to two offerings already on-market in the EU by two of the big four global astaxanthin players – Zanthin by Florida-based Valensa and BioAstin by Hawaiian firm, Cyanotech.

Parry proposed concentrations of 2.5, five and seven per cent. It already exports an astaxanthin-rich powder into a number of EU countries, but this application relates to their use in soft gel capsules containing up to 4mg of astaxanthin.

Public comments can be made public although those wishing to consult with the FSA’s Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) confidentially can do so.

Growing market

Driven by increased exposure from the likes of superfruits, public interest in carotenoids​ and antioxidants is surging. The interest is being assisted by a growing body of supporting science in areas such as eye and heart health.

The global astaxanthin market is estimated at about €190m globally, most of which is used in fish colouration. The human uses market is growing and estimated at about €20-€30m.

The world’s leading supplier is Isreal supplier, Algatechnologies. The fourth big player is Japan’s Fuji Chemical Industry Company via its Scandiniavian subsidiary, Astareal.

Ten per cent astaxanthin oil sells in the vicinity of €950-€1350 per kilogram, with vegetarian beadlets and cold water versions being more expensive.

Most astaxanthin is derived from the algae, Haematococcus pluvialis​, which is commonly consumed by fish and crustaceans and is responsible for their pink colouration.

Under the Novel Foods process, Parry Nutraceuticals, a division of Indian firm, EID Parry, must gain approval from the relevant authority of an EU Member State, in this case the UK.

Europe's Novel Foods regulation (EC No 258/97) was introduced in May, 1997 and requires any food or ingredient not commonly consumed in the EU prior to May 1997 to undergo safety assessment before it can be sold across the EU's 27-member bloc.

It is a notoriously long-winded and unpopular process that has been much criticised by industry for stalling innovation, but the European Commission has mooted that it will be simplified or streamlined or both.

Parry Nutraceuticals was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

To read its 42-page application click here​.

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