The EU novel foods extension means the Norwegian firm’s ‘Superba’ krill oil can be consumed at doses up to 3 g per day for most adults, 450 mg per day for pregnant and lactating women. The approval applies only to food supplements.
Aker CEO Matts Johansen told us the approval opened a lot of doors for krill, especially in regard to use of EU-approved health claims for omega-3 forms EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
“Until now, it has been challenging to use the EU-authorised health claims with standard krill oil because you couldn’t go beyond the 250 mg dosage form,” Johansen said.
‘make krill oil great again’
Responding to the approval Aker is launching a verison with boosted choline levels at the Vitafoods Europe trade show in Geneva next month to “take advantage of stronger market positioning backed by EU-authorised health claims.”
“Krill oil will now become relevant to companies that in the past were reluctant to launch a product due to a difficult regulatory environment.”
Johansen added: “During the past few years, krill oil sales have gone through different periods of growth and contraction. We believe our new developments will breathe new life into the category and make krill oil great again.”
With the boosted choline version, Aker said it will focus on the following EU-approved claims under the EU nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR):
- EPA & DHA contribute to the normal function of the heart
- Choline contributes to the maintenance of normal liver function
- Choline contributes to normal lipid metabolism
- Choline contributes to normal homocysteine metabolism
Aker in September 2014 applied to Irish authorities for the extension to its already-granted 2009 novel food approval. It applied for food supplements and other food groups but after opposition to a broader approval raised by some EU member states, the extension was granted in food supplements only.
Products containing the nutrient must state: "lipid extract from the crustacean Antarctic Krill (Euphausia superba)’."
The human use market for krill oil - also typically rich in astaxanthin - has been growing strongly for most of this decade and is estimated to be valued at about €100m globally – a small but significant segment within the overall €1bn+ marine-sourced omega-3 supply for food use.
Aker recently had its Antarctic krill harvesting operation re-certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), widely regarded as the gold standard in fisheries certifications. The organisation set four baseline parameters for certifying Aker’s krill fishery. These were:
- Estimate target reference point (determine the risk for the krill stock associated with the krill harvest)
- Determine the fish larvae by-catch
- Effects of the fishery on the ecosystem/krill predators
- Map krill predator interaction
The trade group GOED (Global Organisation of EPA and DHA Omega-3s) is working with key krill suppliers to add the Antarctic crustacean as a source to its omega-3 monograph.
While most human-use krill remains in the food supplement category, krill oil at lower doses is already approved for use in the EU in formats like:
- Bakery products (breads, bread rolls) including sweet biscuits
- Breakfast cereals
- Nutrition bars (muesli, cereal bars)
- Cooking fats
- Dairy products except milk-based drinks (including yoghurts, unripened cheese/fromage frais)
- Dairy analogues except drinks
- Cheeses and cheese analogues
- Non-alcoholic beverages, including milk-based drinks
- Spreadable fats and dressings
- Food supplements (general population and products intended for pregnant and lactating women)
- Dietary foods for special medicinal purposes
- Food intended for use in energy restricted diets for weight restriction
- Other foods for particular nutritional uses excluding infant and follow-on formula
Europe's novel foods regulation was introduced in 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 28-member bloc. The process has recently been centralised meaning the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) now examines applications rather than member state food safety agencies.
Aker said its strongest European markets are Germany, Austria and Switzerland.