The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a final rule providing “for the safe use of spirulina extract made from the dried biomass of the cyanobacteria Arthrospira platensis (A. platensis), as a color additive in candy and chewing gum.” According to FDA, “Spirulina is a blue-green filamentous cyanobacteria that occurs naturally in freshwater and marine habits.” Its extract primarily contains “the water soluble components of spirulina, namely phycocyanins and other proteins, polysaccharides, lipids, and minor amounts of components such as vitamins, minerals, and moisture.”

FDA has also determined that “there is no need for a specific upper limit for the color additive or phycocyanin content,” although the extract must abide by limits for lead, arsenic and mercury, in addition to testing negative for the 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.” Effective September 13, 2013, the final rule reportedly represents the first time a “natural” blue color additive has been approved for use on the U.S. market. See Federal Register, August 13, 2013; FoodNavigator-USA.com, August 14, 2013.