In for the krill: NKO earns EU safety spurs

Crustacean extract more powerful than other omega 3s, Neptune says

KrillThe quest to make krill oil the next big thing in omega-3s received a boost from a decision by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to approve it under the Novel Foods regime.

The decision, which applies specifically to Canada-based Neptune Technologies & Bioressources' Neptune Krill Oil (NKO) brand, means the ingredient can be marketed legally for the first time in the European Union in food and dietary supplements.

NKO is a marine omega-3s phospholipid produced from Antarctic krill, a small crustacean, using a proprietary extraction technique Neptune developed, which is said to preserve the natural bio-activity of the ingredient.

The first NKO krill-oil product to be launched in Europe will be a dietary supplement, most likely introduced in the UK. The first functional-foods launch will be a weight-management protein bar, to be introduced soon in both Europe and the US, where NKO has GRAS status.

Having negotiated the tricky Novel Foods process, Neptune is preparing to submit Article 13.1 and 13.5 claims for NKO to EFSA for approval under the European Nutrition & Health Claims Regulation. The company claims its krill oil has the edge over other marine sources of omega 3s, such as salmon, because clinical trials show it is more effective in reducing bad cholesterol levels and raising good cholesterol levels, and it is more bio-available.

Tina Sampalis, Neptune's chief scientific officer, said: "According to EFSA regulations, functional-food and dietary supplements can only be commercialised at the daily dose established as safe, which is not always necessarily the effective dose. Fortunately, the daily dose accepted by EFSA as safe for NKO is also the one proven to be effective in all clinical studies with NKO."

Neptune said its sales are currently at the $10-$12 million mark, but expects them to rise to $16-$18 million by the end of the financial year, and to double within two years following that.

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