Recently, the European Commission has decided to reduce the use level of a coloring feed additive betacarotene-4,4′-dione commonly known as canthaxanthin derived from beta carotene, a vitamin A.
The decision was based on a suspected link between the feed additive and eyesight problems. Canthaxanthin is pigment used to color food; it adds a reddish color to salmon, egg yolks and poultry products.
In nature, salmon gets its pinkish color from its consumption of shrimps. Consumers also prefer same color from farmed salmon and this is the reason feed additives such as cathaxanthins have been used as feed additive. In poultry industry also because of consumer preference, cathaxanthin is used to give the skin and egg yolks a brighter yellow color.
In 1995, FAO/WHO Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) set an acceptable daily intake (ADI) of up to 0.03 mg/kg human body weight for canthaxanthin. The European Commission also reached similar conclusion for human exposure of canthaxanthin as a color additive in food.
The European Commission permits 80 ppm cantxanthins in feed as a coloring additive. However, the Scientific Committee on Animal Nutrition concluded that this use level is too high and recommended to set use levels of 25 mg/kg for salmonids and broilers and 8 mg/kg for laying hens. These recommendations were accepted by the Commission.
Earlier, FDA has established that the quantity of canthaxanthin be 4.41 and 80 mg/kg, respectively for broiler feed and salmonoid fish feed.