Parry’s organic spirulina goes GRAS

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Organic certification, Organic farming

Parry Nutraceuticals has said its organic spirulina product has been certified as GRAS, meaning it can be used to enhance the nutritional value of foods ranging from cereals and snacks to frozen dairy.

The GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status was self-affirmed by an independent panel of experts, which Parry said was made up of former senior FDA and EPA toxicologists.

According to the Indian firm, the GRAS status is valid for use of the ingredient at an ADI (acceptable daily intake) of 20g per day.

Parry said the ingredient can be used to “supplement or enhance the nutritional value and phytonutrient level” ​of products.

Potential applications include non-alcoholic beverages and beverage bases, breakfast cereals, fresh fruit juices, frozen dairy desserts, hard candies, milk products, processed fruit juices, processed vegetable juices, condiments and relishes, grain products, pastas, and snack foods.

Quality control

The company said its spirulina is produced according to new cGMPs. Its production facilities are also certified HACCP, ISO 9001 and ISO 1401.

The organic certifications the company holds for its ingredient include USDA NOP, Naturland - Germany, Ecocert - France, and OCIA - IFOAM standards.

Parry said its spirulina is also verified under the USP Ingredient Verification Program and is Kosher and Halal.

Organic challenges

Producing organic spirulina has caused some obstacles for manufacturers in the past, after the National Organic Standards Board's (NOSB) ruled out the use of Chilean nitrate in organic production.

Chilean nitrate is a water-soluble source of nitrogen. It is an organic material but, since it is mined, not a sustainable one. While a water-soluble source is required in microalgae farming, in terrestrial farming it is not desirable as it can lead to the contamination of ground water.

In 2005, as the ban came into place for spirulina production, two major producers – Cyanotech and Earthwise – both opted to cease offering organicspirulina​.

The companies said they conducted research into potential alternative fertilizers for spirulina, but both concluded that maintaining organic production would not only result in a lower quality product at higher cost, but also compromise the safety of their products.

They therefore opted to continue producing spirulina in just the same way as they had for more than a decade, but said they would no longer call it 'organic'.

Parry Nutraceuticals said it uses only vegetarian sources of nitrogen and phosphorous nutrients in its production process, which it spent two years developing.

"We have worked very hard to create an all-vegetarian spirulina that is certified organic in the US and Europe,"​ Parry's US agent Dr John Benemann told NutraIngredients-USA.com at the time.

He said that Parry was using a plant-based nutrient source.

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