Lycopene foods set to explode after EU approval

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union, Lycored

Formal European Commission approval of several lycopene forms for use in foods is set to significantly expand the market for the tomato-based antioxidant that is now no longer restricted to food supplement applications.

Offerings from four suppliers - Vitatene, BASF, DSM and Lycored have won Novel Foods approval, and according to Israeli-based Lycored, the market is set for significant growth.

Competitive advantage

“This is important news for the food and beverage industries where fortifying foods with ingredients offering added health benefits is a key to higher profits,”​ said Udi Alroy, vice president of global marketing and sales at LycoRed, which manufactures a natural form of lycopene called Lyc-O-Mato.

“Thanks to this new approval, Lyc-O-Mato has created a new natural lycopene category for food applications in Europe.”

The approval is specific to the natural and synthetic lycopene versions from the four companies and LycoRed noted the competitive advantage this offered.

“Any other natural lycopene manufacturer that would like to market the ingredient in Europe will not be able to unless and until their product passes regulatory scrutiny by the EU Member States’ national food assessment bodies,”​ the company said in a statement.

“LycoRed will be providing input to these bodies when natural lycopene ingredients are under review.”

As an antioxidant, lycopene has been shown to have heart, blood pressure, prostate, osteoporosis, skin and other benefits in both natural and synthetic form and it has been commonly used in food supplements and cosmeceutical applications.

“Food manufacturers should always be cautious when choosing an ingredient purported to provide health benefits,”​ Ulroy added. “The ingredient manufacturer should be asked to supply the clinical research that backs up the claimed benefits.”

Select categories

The ingredients were deemed safe by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and approval was then granted at a European Commission’s Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCFCAH) meeting.

It means 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

But the SCFCAH noted some population segments may exceed Allowed Daily Intakes and requested the companies​“to collect and analyse consumption data.”

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

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