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Astaxanthin wins Novel Foods approval
Israeli firm Algatechnologies has won European Union Novel Foods approval for its patented version of the antioxidant astaxanthin, and plans to take the ingredient into new European markets.
The approval applies only to food supplements although Algatechnologies said it would seek authorisation for use in food and beverage applications.

It is also approved for use in cosmeceutical applications.

The algae-derived ingredient, AstaPure, had previously won European approval and been on the market for several years but was extracted in the US and shipped back to Europe.

New markets

Now Algatechnologies has brought the extraction process to various European sites and so had to reapply for Novel Foods status, which was granted by the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) in May, as it was deemed substantially equivalent to natural astaxanthin products already on-market.

EU Novel Foods approval is required for foods and ingredients that were not on-market before May, 1997 and cannot demonstrate a safe history either inside or outside Europe.

"This is significant for us because it means we can continue our expansion into new markets especially in eastern Europe where we see huge potential," Efrat Kat, Algatechnologies marketing manager, told NutraIngredints.com.

"We want to exploit this approval and drive astanxanthin to a new level of availability and acceptance."

AstaPure has appeared in products from major supplements companies in markets such as the UK, Spain, Italy, France and Germany, often in combination with other carotenoids such as lutein or zeaxanthin.

Astaxanthin is most commonly used as a pigment to enhance the pink colouration of fish such as salmon.

This market in both natural and synthetic forms is estimated to be worth in the region 190m globally.

Its use in products intended for human use are more novel and the market is estimated to be worth between 20-30m.

Algatechnologies said it had recorded double digit growth in the astaxanthin market in recent years.

Its main health benefits are eye and skin health although it has also been linked to joint health and central nervous system health and is said to have an antioxidant payload 500 times that of vitamin E.

While no health claims can yet be made in regard to the ingredient, Algatechnologies said applications would be submitted under the EU nutrition and health claims regulation by year's end.

Algatechnologies will engage in a business-to-business advertising push to raise awareness for the ingredient and a consumer press campaign would follow.

Other major players in the global astaxanthin market are Hawaiian-based Cyanotech,  Japan's Fuji Chemical Industry Company-owned but Scandinavian-based Astareal and Florida-based Valensa.

Algatechnologies natural astaxanthin version is derived from Haematococcus pluvialis microalgae, located in Israel's Arava desert, where the ingredient is produced under a patented system.

High pressure super critical CO2 extraction produces 10 per cent astaxanthin in oleoresin form that requires no solvents.