Vitatene hopes to expand lycopene horizons

By Alex McNally

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Lycopene

Spain's Vitatene is looking to extend the use of lycopene by adding
it into a range of food products such as drinks, and cereal.

The company has already secured novel food status to use lycopene in an oil suspension form, which is suitable for butter, cheese and margarine. This new novel food application for a cold water dispersible (CWD) form could open up the European market even further, into a wider range of food products than before. Previously lycopene has been hindered by regulatory restrictions around the world, and today lycopene in CWD is approved in Europe only as a red colour (E160d) for food applications. Under this, companies have not been able to flag up the lycopene content for its healthy attributes. Now Vitatene is looking to correct the situation and turn the tides on its use. Last year the firm successfully saw the ingredient granted novel food permission for use in oil suspension form, which was the first step of broadening out market horizons. Luisa Volpati,​Vitatene sales manager, told that with approval Vitatene will be the only company supplying the European market with lycopene as novel food ingredient for fat and water based food stuff. She said: "Our customers will label Lycopene as a health ingredient and not only as a colourant. ​The approval of lycopene for oil suspension was an important step for the company, she said. She added: "Immediately we realised the need to enlarge the existing approval to the powders of our product line." ​Vitatene's lycopene is derived from the fungus Blakeslea trispora​. In the company's application to the UK's FSA it said it hopes to use the ingredient in as drinks, cereal and cereal products, milk and milk products, sugars, preserves and confectionery. Lycopene is an antioxidant that can also be found in red fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit and apricots. If approved, Vitatene will market its ingredient in Europe under the trade name Lyconat. The group's application added that CWD helped boost the quality of the lycopene. The firm said: "The manufacturing process and extraction system is shown to produce material of a highly purified nature. "Analysis of representative batches of the lycopene crystal and the resultant lycopene CWD products also demonstrate that the manufacturing process and final product formulation are both reproducible and capable of producing material that meets specification." ​ Due to its chemical structure lycopene is susceptible to chemical changes such as isomerisation and degradation when exposed to light and heat. To overcome these stability issues, lycopene production is carried out under dark, controlled temperature, and nitrogen atmosphere. It is a continuous process in which lycopene crystals are not accumulated but are immediately utilized in the manufacturing of the CWD product, the company added.

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