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COLORSPORE: new natural carotenoids

carotenoids
© Inra Phototheque
In recent years, functional foods that contribute to the wellbeing and health of consumers have seen considerable growth in the food market. Top of the list of functional ingredients are carotenoids, used both as colorants and food additives (vitamins, antioxidants, etc.), but the instability of these compounds, notably in the digestive tract, has hampered their development. The European COLORSPORE project aims to develop new sources of food colorants and additives that are natural and stable with respect to gastric acid.

COLORSPORE: new natural carotenoids

Recently, one of the partners in the COLORSPORE project discovered certain carotenoids that remain stable when in contact with gastric acid.
These carotenoids, arising from marine organisms, are currently under in-depth study in the context of the COLORSPORE programme, as are the bacteria that produce them; the longer term aim is to develop new, natural, functional additives and ingredients that can replace those manufactured chemically. This natural and sustainable biosynthesis from bacteria would thus ensure freedom from a pollutant production system that uses considerable quantities of organic solvents.

The COLORSPORE consortium involves microbiologists, biochemists and food technologists, and its initial aim is to gain a clearer understanding of the bacterial carotenoids that have been discovered, to characterise their antioxidant activity and bioavailability, and to assess their potential value as food additives or colorants (optimisation of production processes, formulation, etc.). As a second stage, members of the group will try to identify other marine bacteria capable of producing carotenoids that have still not been identified.

Two INRA research units: the Joint Research Unit for the Safety and Quality of Products of Plant Origin in Avignon, and the Joint Research Unit for Lipid Nutrients and the Prevention of Metabolic Diseases in Marseille, are involved in this project which is being coordinated by Royal Holloway University of London.

The Joint Research Unit for the Safety and Quality of Products of Plant Origin in Avignon is particularly involved in work on the stability and antioxidant activity of carotenoids (by studying the inhibition of lipid peroxidation by carotenoids) under in vitro conditions that mimic gastrointestinal behaviour (presence of metals, etc.).

The Joint Research Unit for Lipid Nutrients and the Prevention of Metabolic Diseases in Marseille will be studying in more detail the absorption of bacterial carotenoids by intestinal cells (in vitro by using a human intestinal cell line and in vivo in the rat) in order to deduce their bioavailability.

This project associates nine partners, including two commercial companies. It has received financial support from the European Commission to a value of €3 millions.

Project coordinator:

Prof. Simon M. Cutting
School of Biological Sciences,
Royal Holloway University of London,
Egham, Surrey, TW20 0EX
United Kingdom
s.cutting@rhul.ac.uk
www.rhul.ac.uk

Participants :

OWAY AND BEDFORD NEW COLLEGE.     UNITED KINGDOM
UNIVERSITA DEGLI STUDI DI NAPOLI FEDERICO II.     ITALY
INSTITUT NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE AGRONOMIQUE (INRA)     FRANCE
TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY OF ISTANBUL     TURKEY
NESTEC S.A     SWITZERLAND
THE UNIVERSITY OF MEDICINE & PHARMACY AT HO CHI MINH CITY     VIET NAM
AQUAPHARM BIODISCOVERY LIMITED     UNITED KINGDOM
JOHANN WOLFGANG GOETHE UNIVERSITAET FRANKFURT AM MAIN     GERMANY



Writing: Inra mission Communication
Creation date: 06 July 2010
Contact: Catherine Caris-Veyrat
UMR408 Joint Research Unit for the Safety and Quality of Products of Plant Origin SQPOV
INRA, Domaine Saint Paul site Agroparc
84914 Avignon cedex 9
catherine.caris@avignon.inra.fr

Patrick Borel
UMR1260 Joint Research Unit for Lipid Nutrients and Prevention of Metabolic Diseases NLP2M
Faculté de Médecine de la Timone
27, boulevard Jean Moulin
13385 Marseille cedex 05
Patrick.Borel@univmed.fr