ORANGE, N.J.USDA approved a five-fold increase in the level of tomato lycopene allowed as a colorant in ready-to-eat (RTE) meat products, which allows tomato lycopene colorants to effectively replace FD&C Red #40 and carmine in a wide assortment of deli meats, sausage and hot dogs.
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 compared to 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 at LycoRed, a tomato lycopene colorant manufacturer. “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.