LycoRed satisfies FDA over Lyc-O-Mato safety

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Functional foods Lycopene Fda

LycoRed has fulfilled the FDA's GRAS requirements with its
Lyc-O-Mato Powder for functional foods - news which the company
expects will encourage its use by large food companies.

Lyc-O-Mato was self-affirmed GRAS (generally recognized as safe) by a panel of independent experts in January 2005, but the Israel-based company​ decided to go one step further and have the ingredient assessed by the FDA in an effort to expand its use in the functional arena.

"This is a good signal to big food corporations, who don't want to use a product that is not FDA GRAS,"​ LycoRed VP of marketing Dr Zohar Nir told

The ingredient is a spray-dried powder produced from lycopene-rich tomatoes. Dr Nir said that it is an entirely natural fiber and as such can be used in food products. But because of its high lycopene content, its use in functional foods can be a way of delivering the benefits to people who might not otherwise eat tomato products.

"Tomato mania is here. People are realizing that tomatoes and tomato-based products are good because of the lycopene and other phytonutrients such as beta-carotene and tocopherols,"​ said Dr Nir. "Lyc-O-Mato Powder contains all these goodies, that are passed into functional foods."

LycoRed, together with Heinz and Morning Star, has submitted a qualified health claim for the link between lycopene and a reduced risk of prostate cancer.

However the company was informed yesterday that the FDA is delaying its decision for 90 days - the third time it has done so.

The last time, in April, the government body apologized and said that the delay was down to its own lack of resources and not problems with the submission.

"We are in the hands of the FDA," said Dr Nir - but he added that if the claim is approved it will give LycoRed's business a real boost in the US.

Containing one percent natural lycopene, Lyc-O-Mato Powder was developed to extend the use of the original Lyc-O-Mato Oleoresin for dietary supplements into foods. It is around 50 percent cheaper than the supplement version.

In the US, a beverage product has already been launched with Lyc-O-Mato, and a tortilla containing it will be on the market in the fall. According to Nir others functional products nearing the launch pad, and the ingredient is also suitable for use as a natural red colorant in a variety of foods such as soy meat substitute products, pasta, cereals and smoothie drinks.

Since May, Lyc-O-Mato Powder has been represented to food, beverage and functional foods companies in the eastern US, Canada and Mexico by PL Thomas.

The US makes up around 50 percent of LycoRed's business, with Europe accounting for 25 percent and Japan and the rest of the world the remainder. Dr Nir said that it has been much easier to launch the ingredient in the US, since the market is more organized. In Europe it has to be registered in each individual country, which slows up the introduction process.

The company received the go-ahead for the powder's use in foods in the UK in June.

A multinational food company is expected to launch a functional product containing lycopene in Europe early next year, although it is not yet confirmed whether it will contain Lyc-O-Mato or another tomato powder.

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