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USDA Raises Tomato Lycopene Limit for Meat


In a game-changing move, the USDA approved a five-fold increase in the level of tomato lycopene allowed as a colorant in ready-to-eat (RTE) meat products, according to LycoRed., Ltd. (Israel).

Non-GMO Project

This increase allows tomato lycopene colorants from manufacturer LycoRed to effectively replace FD&C Red #40 and carmine in a wide assortment of deli meats, sausages and hot dogs, reported the company, noting LycoRed’s Tomat-O-Red produces red hues similar to those from artificial and insect-based colors

Natural food-color applications for global meat product launches, as tracked by Innova Market Insights, showed a 21 percent increase in product launch activity in 2012 over 2011, and a further 5 percent increase in 2013 from 2012.

“The USDA decision changes the ballgame for us,” said Roee Nir, colorant business unit manager, LycoRed. “We now may offer RTE meat manufacturers dramatic color options that previously were only attainable with artificial or insect-derived colors.”

Both of the LycoRed clean-label colorants are acceptable for use in RTE beef, pork and poultry products, as well as RTE meats for the fast-growing kosher and halal markets, according to LycoRed, adding kosher and halal rules forbid products colored with carmine, and the heat- and light-stable colorants are based on lycopene, a carotenoid highly valued for its antioxidant health benefits.

For more information, visit www.lycored.com.