Solvent extracted lycopene from tomatoes is approved for use as an additive (E160d) and is used as an ingredient in a range of foods and dietary supplements. Synthetic lycopene is also used as a food ingredient, but is not permitted for use as a colour additive. Blakeslea trispora is a fungus that synthesises large quantities of carotenoids. Vitatene proposes to market lycopene, derived from the fungus Blakeslea trispora, for use as a nutritional food ingredient and dietary supplement in the EU. Approval is sought under Regulation (EC) No 258/97 concerning novel foods and novel food ingredients.
Before any new food product can be introduced on the European market it must be rigorously assessed for safety. In the UK the assessment of novel foods is carried out by an independent committee of scientists appointed by the Food Standards Agency, the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP).
Following an initial public consultation period and the discussion of this application at the 20 November 2033 and 4 February 2004 meetings of the ACNFP, the Committee has now formulated an initial opinion on this novel food ingredient.
In October 2006 Vitatence was granted authorisation to market its Lycopene from Blakeslea trispora, in the EU by Commission Decision 2006/721/EC.