Joint Venture Formed to Produce Natural Astaxanthin


Steven Hedlund

Published on
February 8, 2009

Astaxanthin, a naturally occurring antioxidant, is a key ingredient in salmon and trout feed, giving the farmed fish a pink-orange hue familiar to consumers; otherwise, the flesh would be gray and unappealing, yet still safe to eat.

The joint venture, Naturxan LLC, will produce natural astaxanthin at ADM’s Decatur, Ill., facility. Currently, both ADM and Igene of Columbia, Md., manufacture the product separately.

“A primary difference between natural-source astaxanthin and synthetic astaxanthin is the production process,” said ADM spokesman Roman Blahoski. “Synthetic astaxanthin is derived from non-renewable petrochemicals. Naturxan’s natural source-astaxanthin is produced through fermentation using natural Phaffia yeast, and since no solvent extraction processes are applied during production, there are no chemical residues.”

News of Naturxan comes as the U.S. Supreme Court hears a case involving astaxanthin. A consumer lawsuit initially filed in 2005 accuses Supervalu, Safeway and Kroger of violating federal food-labeling rules by failing to label farmed as “artificially colored.”

In mid-January, the retailers argued that only government regulators can enforce federal and state labeling laws, not consumers, but the court rejected the appeal.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will still require retailers to label farmed salmon and trout as artificially colored, whether synthetic or natural Phaffia yeast astaxanthin is used in the fish feed, said Blahoski.

Blahoski would not speculate whether the advent of natural astaxanthin will help retailers thwart the consumer misperception that farmed salmon and trout is dyed.

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