Blue and beyond: GNT gains FDA approval for use of spirulina extract in beverages

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Blue and beyond: GNT gains FDA approval for use of spirulina extract in beverages

Related tags GNT Clean label plant-based colors Colours spirulina Sustainability

GNT has secured US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the use of spirulina extract in beverages: offering a clean label way of delivering not only vibrant blue shades but also an associated palette of navy blues and violets.

GNT, which supplies plant-based EXBERRY color concentrates, has developed a patented formulation technology that allows spirulina extract to remain temperature- and acid-stabilized in beverages.

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) had previously only permitted the use of spirulina extract as a natural blue coloring ingredient in certain food products and powdered beverages. However, GNT has now successfully petitioned the FDA to amend the regulation to cover all non-alcoholic beverages as well as alcoholic beverages below 20% ABV: with the update coming into effect on December 13, 2022. ​

This means the EXBERRY Blue Beverage Solution can be used as a clean-label replacement for synthetic food coloring Blue 1 in the vast majority of drink applications: including sports, energy, carbonated drinks, juice drinks, enhanced waters and alcoholic beverages under 20% ABV.

Spirulina success

GNT – the largest spirulina extract manufacturer in the world – notes that interest in spirulina has ‘increased exponentially over the past decade’ particularly in products such as yogurt, ice cream and confectionery.

Its Blue Beverage Solution offers a bright turquoise blue shade in acidified beverages with a pH range between 2.6 to 3.4 and can be combined with other EXBERRY concentrates to deliver hues including navy blue, violet, and green.

GNT USA’s Technical Director, Jane MacDonald, said: “GNT’s EXBERRY Blue Beverage Solution at long last offers manufacturers a pathway to bright, stable, regulatory-approved, and consumer-friendly natural blue colors. Natural blues have always presented challenges, from regulatory hurdles to technical limitations, but with GNT’s regulatory and technical expertise, we are excited to create new opportunities for beverage manufacturers.”

GNT boasts a completely vertically integrated spirulina supply chain, beginning with raw material cultivation through to its dedicated product manufacturing facility to ensure commercial scale-up capabilities. The company’s facility also uses green energy generated from solar panels.

GNT USA’s Vice President, Jeannette O’Brien, added: “Spirulina’s brisk market growth shows no signs of slowing down due to growing consumer awareness of this ingredient’s health halo, which taps into burgeoning wellness trends. EXBERRY colors are also created at our cutting-edge manufacturing facilities using gentle, physical processing methods that align with the transparency that these shoppers want to see.”

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