August 15/Washington/FDA -- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is amending the color additive regulations to provide 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.

The move comes in response to a petention filed by Mars Inc., and the rule will be effective from September 13, 2013.

Mars' petition noted, "Spirulina is a blue-green filamentous cyanobacteria that occurs naturally in freshwater and marine habitats. It has a long history as a food in many countries ... Spirulina contains chlorophyll and phycobilins, which absorb sunlight and have a role in photosynthesis. The phycobilins found in spirulina are phycocyanins, which are blue and, together with chlorophyll, give spirulina its characteristic blue-green color."

The FDA, in its approval, explained, "We have previously considered the safety of the dried biomass of spirulina and certain spirulina-derived substances in food as a result of submissions from firms who have made their own determinations that certain uses of spirulina and spirulina-derived substances in food are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) ... Based on the data and information in the petition and other relevant material, we conclude that the petitioned use of spirulina extract, a color additive made from the biomass of A. platensis, in candy and chewing gum is safe. We further conclude that the additive will achieve its intended technical effect and is suitable for the petitioned use. Consequently, we are amending the color additive regulations in part 73. In addition, based upon the factors listed in 21 CFR 71.20(b), we conclude that certification of spirulina extract is not necessary for the protection of the public health."