Algalif’s astaxanthin awarded non-GMO status

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Algalif’s astaxanthin awarded non-GMO status
Icelandic astaxanthin producer Algalif has received non-GMO accreditation for its Astalíf 5% and 10% oleoresin products, microalgae-based antioxidants suitable for softgel capsule formulations.

The third-party verification—the Non-GMO Project Product Verification Program—confirms that Astalíf 5% and 10% have been evaluated by an independent party for compliance with industry standards.

“We are pleased to achieve this certification and believe it helps reinforce our commitment to quality and to our customers that want to avoid GMOs in their products,”​ said Orri Björnsson, CEO of Algalif Iceland.

Algalif join Israel’s Algatechnologies, Algae Health Sciences and French-based botanical ingredients supplier Naturex in adjusting to future world market conditions by certifying its ingredients non-GMO.

According to Simon Seward, Algalif’s global business director, “Buyers are increasingly knowledgeable about what to look for when purchasing astaxanthin”.

He added that they were looking for non-GMO ingredients because more and more consumers were avoiding them and demanding “all-natural” products.

The Non-GMO Project states that demand for these products is at an all-time high with over 43,000 products from over 3,000 brands non-GMO project verified in the US. This represents more than €18 bn ($22.3 bn) in annual sales .

Supply chain considerations

Confirmation of non-GMO status could well be a wise move for microorganism-derived ingredients such as astaxanthin, which is cultivated from the microalgal species Haematococcus pluvialis.

Unlike tea for example, the use of organisms that have been genetically modified to alter the metabolites they produce is increasingly becoming part of the supply chain.

A recent report​by the European Commission entitled “Aquatic food products and new marine value chains – reinforcing EU Research and Innovation policy for food & nutrition security,” acknowledged public fears over GMO in algal products and called for more education.

“Regarding algal strains, we must also increase our knowledge of algal metabolism and regulation to design, especially with techniques such as CRISPR/Cas9 technology for genome editing,” the report said.

“The potential of CRISPR/Cas system, unlike the traditional methods used in GMO and Synthetic Biology experimentation, is the real possibility of targeting metabolic pathways with the resultant transformant bearing no legacy of the tools used to create it.

“This will overcome public fears of being exposed to genes (and their products) that are not naturally found in their choice of meat, plant, vegetable, fruit or algae.”

Accreditation overload

While the certification remains the US’ only third-party verification for non-GMO food and products, Algalif explained that seeking EU-based accreditation would be counterproductive.

According to the company’s regulatory and documentation specialist, Clara Robertsdottir, other certifications that would only serve as “secondary certifications”​ and would not add anything new to the “certification”​ portfolio.

Along with Halal and Kosher certifications for its other products, Algalif recently received a novel food certification for its astaxanthin product receiving approval for its commercial availability.

Despite this achievement, the Reykjanesbaer-based company added that it was not interested in gaining Novel Food Approvals in the EU for different astaxanthin extraction methods at the current time.

According to Robertsdottir, supercritical CO2 – its solvent-free approach to producing astaxanthin—remained the most efficient, most environmental, and consumer-friendly option available.

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