Lycopene forms win EU Novel Foods approval

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Lycopene, European union, European food safety authority

Several proprietary lycopene forms have been approved for use in a variety of food applications as well as food supplements, after gaining a green light from a European Commission committee.

Those winning approval in a wide variety of categories include a fermented version from Spanish supplier, Vitatene, a tomato-extracted lycopene version from Lycored, and synthetic versions from BASF and DSM.

The approval remains to be written into the European Union legislature, but this is a formality, and is expected within weeks.

“Lycopene is approved for food fortifications under the guidance of the EU,”​ said Lycored vice president of products development and scientific affairs, Zohar Nir, PhD.

Vitatene had its fermented lycopene authorised under Novel Foods rules in October, 2006, but only in an oil suspension. Before that it was only available as a food colouring.

The latest decision follows a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) opinion issued in April, 2008, that backed lycopene as a safe food ingredient.

All four companies offerings can now be used in:

  • food supplements at 15 mg/day
  • Fruit/vegetable juice based drinks at 25 mg/l
  • Drinks for intense muscular efforts (sports drinks) at 25 mg/l
  • Foods intended for energy restricted diets for weight reduction at 50 mg/kg
  • Breakfast cereal at 50 mg/kg
  • Fats and dressings at 100 mg/kg
  • Soups other than tomato at 10 mg/kg
  • Bread including crispy bread at 30 mg/kg
  • Foods for special medical purposes at the level needed for the particular nutritional use


In its discussion, the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCFCAH) noted overall lycopene consumption levels needed to be observed.

“As the opinion from EFSA points out that there is a risk that some users of lycopene may exceed the Allowed Daily Intake (ADI), the draft decisions request the companies asking for the authorisation for the use of lycopene as a novel food ingredient to collect and analyse consumption data,”​ it said.

“In the light of these data EFSA will be consulted and the authorisation decisions will be reviewed, as appropriate.​”

SCFCAH turned down flavoured yoghurts because they were “particularly attractive for children who already have a high intake of lycopene from tomato products.”

The natural lycopene market is dominated by Israeli-based supplier, Lycored, and the carotenoid is best known for its ability to benefit the heart, skin and prostate.

BASF’s synthetic version is called LycoVit and the German supplier noted the approval brought the ingredient’s status in line with the US, where it has been ‘grandfathered’ for use in dietary supplements​since 2003.

This story has been amended from the original to acknowledge Vitatene's Novel Foods approvals, both in 2006 and now.

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