Demand for the polyphenol has increased on the back of numerous health studies and growing demand for healthy ingredients.
"With the growing consumer demand for more healthy foods and beverages, this patent is another illustration of Chr Hansen's commitment to providing the food industry with natural ingredient solutions," said David Carpenter, Chr Hansen's North America chief executive.
Curcumin, which is believed to have antimicrobial and cholesterol lowering properties, is gaining much interest as an added-value ingredient in a variety of food applications. Epidemiological studies have previously linked high turmeric intake to lower rates of leukaemia, breast, lung and colon cancer.
As the primary pigment in the spice turmeric, it is also typically used as a food colour in dairy products, beverages, cereal, confectionary, ice cream, bakery, and savoury products.
In dairy, turmeric is mostly used in cultured milk, flavoured milk drinks, and desserts to obtain lemon and banana colours. And in keeping with its original usage as a spice, turmeric is added at higher levels to sausages, pickles, relishes, sauces, dry mixes, and fish.
Its functionality and health properties have therefore made it a valuable ingredient.
Turmeric, mainly grown in Southeast Asia, has been used for centuries as a treatment for wounds and injuries in the Chinese and Ayurvedic systems of medicine. This latest patent underlines contemporary interest in the potential of the ingredient in contemporary food applications.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office issued the patent to the Danish ingredients firm for its 'Purification process for improving total yield of curcuminoid colouring agent' under the patent number 6,942,881.
The newly issued patent is the latest in a number of patents Chr. Hansen owns on natural colours, as well as on starter cultures and lactic acid bacteria, enzymes, wine cultures, and other ingredients.