The animal health and nutrition specialist has an organic selenium yeast product Sel-Plex that it sources and manufacturers in Brazil.
Katrine Thordal-Christensen, global brand manager for Sel-Plex at Alltech, said that while the mineral is well-known within the farming industry, it remains “very new” to consumers.
“There is extensive research on selenium and its links with human health,” Thordal-Christensen told NutraIngredients.
However “a lot of education needs to be done in the market to drive knowledge and understanding on these health benefits and potential of selenium,” she said, “but over the next two years, I think we will see a lot more of this mineral.”
“If you look at the success of the omega-3 concept, selenium has got a lot of similar potential,” she said.
Since the health claim approval, there has certainly been increased interest in Sel-Plex, she detailed, especially from the egg sector which is a natural trend as producing eggs enriched with selenium is a significantly shorter process compared to meat and dairy.
Health claims boom
In 2006 Alltech submitted a technical dossier to EFSA that received a positive opinion response in 2009. On May 16, along with the other shower of health claims, foods enriched with organic selenium were given four approved health claims for use on eggs, meat and dairy products enriched with the organic mineral. They are:
. Contributes to the normal function of the immune system
. Contributes to normal thyroid function
. Contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress
. Contributes to normal spermatogenesis
The EFSA opinion can be found here.
However, certain mandatory criteria that needs to be fulfilled to make these health claims. The organic selenium must be fed via animals and from an approved source and a minimum of 8.25 micrograms of selenium needs to be reached in 100g, 100ml or per portion of milk, meat of eggs.
The EU Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) on selenium consumption is 55 micrograms and the product packaging making the above health claims must also detail the percentage of this RDA.
“The antioxidant activity and immune system boosting properties are the key benefits associated with organic selenium,” Thordal-Christensen said.
While the official health claims does not site the ‘antioxidant’, she said, "Alltech is currently awaiting for guidance from the European Commission on flexibility with respect to the wording of claims." In Regulation EC No. 1924/2006 it stipulates that health claims on food products must be understandable to consumers.
Absorption levels of the organic selenium product are around 90% compared to 40-50% for the inorganic mineral, she said and it is eggs and meat that have the highest end levels of concentrated selenium.
“This product benefits the animal’s health and then consumer health, so it’s a win-win situation,” she noted, “and I think consumers are starting to look behind the farm gate.”