WASHINGTON – The Food and Drug Administration amended its color additive regulations for the safe use of spirulina extract as a color additive in candy and chewing gum, according to the Aug. 13 Federal Register. Spirulina, a blue-green algae, is found naturally in tropical and subtropical lakes, according to Chr. Hansen, which will provide the color for the confectionery and gum industry in the United States.

“Consumers have been long awaiting a natural blue and green for the confectionery industry,” said Kurt Seagrist, senior vice-president, Natural Colors Division, U.S., Milwaukee. “Spirulina provides a radiant blue and a foundation for natural green blends.”

The F.D.A. approval becomes effective Sept. 13. It comes in response to a petition filed by Mars, Inc. and published in the Jan. 20, 2012, Federal Register. The approval covers spirulina extract made from the dried biomass of the cyanobacteria Arthrospira platensis (A. platensis), which occurs naturally in freshwater and marine habitats, according to the F.D.A.

“We have determined that because the amount of the color additive used in food is self-limiting, there is no need for a specific upper limit for the color additive or phycocyanin content,” the F.D.A. said. “Therefore, we are limiting the use of spirulina extract in candy and chewing gum to amounts consistent with good manufacturing practice.

“In addition to specification limits for lead, arsenic and mercury, we are requiring that the color additive be negative for microcystin toxin, which is produced by some species of cyanobacteria that could be potentially present in the water where A. platensis is grown and harvested.”

GNT, which has a U.S. office in Tarrytown, N.Y., said it now has blue and green shades available for confectionery.

“As the pioneer of blue and green colors (containing spirulina), and being a base producer, from farm to production, we are very pleased to see that efforts with the F.D.A. in petitioning for spirulina has resulted in its approval,” GNT said.

Wild Flavors GmbH pointed out it already offers a fruit juice concentrate blue color additive that is acid-stable with a pH range of 2.5 to 8.0. It may be used in various food and beverage applications.

“Although spirulina has been widely used in Europe as a food coloring, Wild developed its natural blue color years ago to fill the gap in the U.S. market place for the entire portfolio of natural colors for food and beverages, contrary to the belief that there has been no natural blue color in the U.S. until now,” Wild Flavors said.

The F.D.A. will accept objections to the spirulina approval and requests for a hearing by Sept. 12. Written objections may be sent to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville MD 20852. Electronic objections may be filed at www.regulations.gov.