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.

This increase allows tomato lycopene colorants from manufacturers like LycoRed Ltd., Israel, to effectively replace FD&C Red #40 and carmine in a wide assortment of deli meats, sausage and hot dogs. 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% increase in product launch activity in 2012 over 2011, and a further 5% increase in 2013 from 2012.

“The USDA decision changes the ballgame for us,” says Roee Nir, Colorant Business Unit Manager at 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. Kosher and halal rules forbid products colored with carmine.

The heat- and light-stable colorants are based on lycopene, a carotenoid highly valued for its antioxidant health benefits.

Tomat-O-Red® is sourced strictly from non-GMO tomatoes. LycoRed oversees production from the farmer’s fields to the finished product. This dependable tomato supply also translates into stable pricing for the processed meat manufacturer. Soon, LycoRed will be launching new, natural tomato-based ingredients for clean-label use.

Protein Innovation

High interest in protein content and high-protein lines across the food and drinks market is continuing to develop, despite the fact that most European and North American consumers already get enough protein in their diets. This will be just one of the areas addressed by Innova Market Insights at its “Taste the Trend” Pavilion (Booth #3651) at the IFT Food Expo in New Orleans, June 21-24.

According to Innova Market Insights, the protein trend is driven by increasing health concerns – primarily weight management – plus the move of sports and performance products into the mainstream and targeted at the more generally active, rather than just athletes and sportsmen. Another trend on the rise is the Paleo diet, focusing on lean protein, while avoiding processed foods and sugars.

“The time is right for protein innovation,” says Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights. Williams cites a number of drivers, including the need to feed a growing global population, an alarming rise in sarcopenia (declining muscle mass, particularly among an aging population), and the economic and environmental costs of existing protein sources. “Proteins have diverse application potential, with opportunities for alternative vegetarian options, and new protein sources – such as microalgae – alongside existing and novel dairy-based and vegetable sources, such as soy, beans and grains,” she adds.

Innova Market Insights data indicate that nearly 3% of global food and beverage launches in the 12 months ending 31 March, 2014, were marketed on a “high-protein” or “source-of-protein” positioning, rising to 6% in the US.

Demand for whey protein specifically is soaring as a result of growing demand in certain Asian markets, as well as its rising popularity as a natural, healthy ingredient, particularly in sports, medical and infant nutrition, and in weight management. While vegetables lead the list for the number of published protein patents in food and drinks, whey has risen from eighth position in 2012 to third position in 2013. At the same time, the number of nut and seed protein patents has also risen sharply, from single figures in 2012 to more than 200 in 2013. Even more exciting has been the strong activity in patent actions relating to algae-derived proteins.