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US firm promises ‘fortified’ beverage revolution with first clear Omega-3 drinks

By Ben Bouckley , 06-Jun-2012
Last updated the 06-Jun-2012 at 13:15 GMT

Virun is claiming major brand interest in its newly patented technologies that encapsulate nonpolar compounds such as Omega-3 acids, allowing them to dissolve clearly in beverages for the first time.

The California-based biosciences company said its trademarked OmegaH2O products, for instance, were now the “premier and only” patented technologies able to deliver (for instance) clear, shelf stable Omega-3 DHA and EPA fatty acids into beverages marketed and sold worldwide.

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an Omega-3 fatty acid that occurs naturally in the human body but that can also be sourced from alpha-linolenic acid in plants or from fish oil. EFSA-approved general function health claims are maintenance of normal vision, cardiac and brain function.

Virun president Nickols Huang confirmed to BeverageDaily.com that encapsulation of DHA without cloudiness or stability issues was not possible prior to Virun’s move.

Stability and cloudiness issues

The company announced on Monday that its patent (12/383,244) had been approved in the US, following a previous EU green light; in Europe manufacturers can use the Article 13.1 health claims approved for DHA outlined above.

Huang told BeverageDaily.com: “It’s not been possible to do this before – this is why it’s such a big deal. Fish oil is very easy to oxidise, you understand. We saw there was a demand in the market, and we have developed the technology to meet this – we’ve been working on this for some years.

The firm was now involved in licensing, investment opportunities and strategic partnering to further interest, Huang added. “We have definitely had [interest from major brandowners] in relation to a number of different things that we are now working on,” he said.

“The allowance of the patents gives a green light, whereas if you don’t have them there’s always that one per cent factor – the patents have to be allowed really.”

Crucial patent approval

As a result of Virun’s patent approval, consumers would benefit from access to a more healthy diet that could be fortified with, for instance, Omega-3, CoQ10, resveratrol or Vitamin E, the firm added, where Virun encapsulates such so-called ‘non-polar compounds’ in a clear concentrate form.

The concentrate allowed beverage manufacturers to add small amounts of a concentrate, much like they would a flavour additive, Virun said, allowing for a less expensive means of incorporating Omega-3s and cutting out the need for further processing.

Philip Bromley, Virun CEO, said: “12/383,244 was a crucial means to begin executing genuine Omega H20 in full force. Expect 2012 to set a new precedent in actualizing new functional beverage applications containing Omega-3 DHA and EPA DHA.”

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