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Virun debuts shelf-stable, H20 soluble, nanotech omega-3

By Shane Starling , 12-Mar-2009
Last updated the 17-Mar-2009 at 08:57 GMT

A patent-pending production process employing nanotechnology is allowing omega-3s into shelf-stable beverages such as juices and waters for the first time, according to biotech firm, Virun.

Californian-based Virun is a pharma specialist but has applied its nano ingredient processing technology to enable water-soluble versions of omega-3 it says deliver shelf-life of up to two years in ambient formats.

The company is in talks with major beverage players with an apple juice due on US shelves “by the summer”, chief executive and science officer, Philip Bromley told NutraIngredients-USA.com.

“Omega-3 is present in chilled juices and milks and has been for some time but the shelf-stable aisle has pretty much been off-limits,” Bromley said. “Our technology is opening up those matrices and we have begun negotiations with several multinational beverage manufacturers. We have had tremendous interest."

One of Virun’s new omega-6 versions has made its debut in a dietary supplement called DynaPep that is being distributed across the US in stores such as GNC and marketed on its energy-giving potential.

Cost considerations

The ingredient, which comes in customized blends for men, women and children, and can deliver about 30mg of ALA (alpha linoleic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) per 100ml serving for about five or six cents, said Bromley. This is more expensive than most food and beverage-based omega-3 offerings, which typically come in around the 1-2 cent mark.

Bromley said the processing technology pushed up the cost but the expanded format potential justified the premium. He said the price would fall as economies of scale kicked in and discounts were available for bulk purchase orders.

Virun has engendered Xsto Solutions, a Georgia-based consultancy, to act as a distributing agent, and its vice president of business development, Dan Murray, said the new technology improved on traditional encapsulation technologies that had allowed omega-3s to be incorporated into an increasingly wide array of functional foods and beverages over the past decade.

“The nano-particles that are being produced have resolved many of the issues that prevented omega-3s being stored in ambient fluids,” Murray said.

The technology works by forming omega-3 nano particles and coating them in a way that their structural integrity is maintained during heat processes, fermentation and over long periods of time. It also protects the ingredients against oxidation.

The Kosher-certified ingredient comes in various formulations including blends with omega-6s, vitamins, lycopene and CoenzymeQ10. Virun has applied the nanotechnology to CoEnzymeQ10, lycopene and some vitamins.

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