Lentil plant protein gets FDA GRAS “no objections” nod for food, drink

The Lentein brand of lentil protein has secured a Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) “no objections” letter from FDA, said the ingredient’s supplier, Parabel USA (Vero Beach, FL). The GRAS affirmation means Lentein is considered safe for use in food and drink.

Lentein is a newer plant-protein source that has made a splash in the nutrition industry in recent years. The ingredient is derived from water lentils, or duckweed (Lemnaceae), and has a Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) of 0.93. The company claims that its levels of essential amino acids and branched-chain amino acids are comparable to that of whey and are higher than other kinds of plant proteins, including soy. Lentein also contains omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, dietary fiber, and other macro- and micronutrients.

Lentein offers a sustainable source of protein. The ingredient’s material, water lentils, is said to grow quickly, doubling in biomass in 24-36 hours, allowing for daily harvest. Parabel says that its existing facility can produce 300 tons of Lentin annually. A second farm, which will open early next year, will be able to produce an additional 3000 tons of protein per year, the company says. Production is done in Florida, where conditions are ideal for Lentein’s open hydroponic systems. “The crop needs sunlight, water, and flat land, which are all in abudance here in Florida,” said Parabel CEO Anthony Tiarks in a press release. Parabel says this is the first time this crop has been produced commercially anywhere in the world.

Parabel says it is also now exploring the potential of Lentein as a natural color. The company notes that it may contemplate undergoing the lengthy FDA color-additive petition process. “Lentein imparts a vibrant green color to the application and keeps its color through different temperatures,” said Tiarks in a press release.

“Parabel has a global intellectual property portfolio of over 70 granted and pending patents, covering all aspects of production, from crop growth to end products,” Tiarks added. “This focus on our IP, since 2011, has been to ensure that Parabel has global protection in the multiple sectors of our business. A new food ingredient is not only unusual and valuable, but it is a highly disruptive event in the food chain for the world.”

In other company news, in September, Parabel announced a distribution agreement with Stauber USA (Fullerton, CA), a subsidiary of Hawkins Inc. Stauber will commercialize and distribute Lentein in the U.S. market. Stauber president Dan Stauber said in a press release, “In today’s environment, novel plant protein sources are in high demand, and our customers are always looking for innovative ways to grow their businesses.”

By: Jennifer Grebow