The Canadian patent (no. 2239971) is for a duration of 20 years and has been granted to Kemin for the process of "forming, isolating and purifying xanthophyll crystals, preferably lutein, from marigold flower petals for human consumption," according to the patent abstract.
"Consumers of supplements, foods and beverages enhanced with FloraGLO Lutein can be confident it is a quality ingredient made according to a proven and patented process," said Zorida DeFreitas, director of research and development for Kemin Foods, likening the purified lutein to that found naturally in various foods.
"Our purified lutein is identical to the lutein found in spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables, as well as eggs," said DeFreitas.
The Canadian patent is the latest among patents granted for FloraGLO Lutein in the United States, Japan, The European Union, Germany, Australia and New Zealand.
In June, pressure from B2B customers encouraged Kemin Foods to attain the ISO 9001:2000 certification for the design and manufacture of its purified lutein as a food and dietary supplement.
"Our customers want to know that our systems are reliable and that we have been certified to ensure quality and safety," said Craig Maltby, Kemin's communications manager.
This certification confirmed that the company's management systems in manufacturing, general management, purchasing, engineering, research/development, quality control, marketing and customer support meet international standards.
FloraGLO Lutein is a purified antioxidant ingredient used by nutritional supplement, food and beverage companies worldwide.
Several studies have linked natural antioxidant lutein with eye-health benefits, namely with reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Recent research has suggested that lutein may promote healthy skin as it appears to quench free radicals that may lead to oxidative stress that can damage cells in these tissues.
While still one of the newest carotenoids to become available to food and supplement makers, sales of lutein are growing rapidly. Market data shows growth in the US vegetarian foods market of 113 percent from 1998-2003, with annual growth rates between 8 and 16 percent. US sales of lutein supplements alone increased to $100 million in 2002 from $30 million in 1999, according to the Nutrition Business Journal.
Kemin Foods is trying to attract a wide as audience as possible to the benefits of lutein and earlier this year launched the first vegetarian lutein ingredient - FloraGLO Lutein 5% VG Granules - onto the market.
Non-vegetarian FloraGLO is already available and present in a number of supplements and multivitamins. Last year, health foods manufacturer Hain Celestial Group introduced two new juices fortified with Kemin Foods' FloraGLO Lutein. The new carrot and vegetable juices each contain 1mg of purified lutein per 8 ounce serving and were made available nationwide through natural foods retailers