Scientific opinion on the safety and efficacy of canthaxanthin as a feed additive for poultry and for ornamental birds and ornamental fish

canthaxanthin, poultry, colouring additive, ornamental birds, ornamental fish, safety, efficacy
First published in the EFSA Journal
17 janvier 2014
3 décembre 2013
Scientific Opinion


Canthaxanthin is a naturally occurring red carotenoid. The following canthaxanthin concentrations in feed are considered safe based on studies and extrapolation of the results: 8 mg/kg complete feed for laying hens, chickens reared for laying, reproductive minor poultry and breeder hens of ornamental birds; 25 mg/kg complete feed for chickens for fattening and minor poultry for fattening; 100 mg/kg feed for ornamental fish and birds (except breeder hens). Canthaxanthin is considered of no concern for genotoxicity. Canthaxanthin deposition in eggs and tissues resulting from the use of the proposed maximum concentrations of canthaxanthin in feed conforms with the maximum residue limits, which ensure consumer safety. In the absence of data it would be prudent to consider canthaxanthin as an irritant to skin and eyes, as a skin sensitiser and as hazardous by inhalation. Considering the oxidative susceptibility of carotenoids, the use of canthaxanthin at the proposed maximum concentration in feed will not result in a substantial increase in canthaxanthin concentration in the environment and consequently does not pose a risk to the environment. Canthaxanthin is efficacious in pigmenting egg yolk and poultry skin/fat. Canthaxanthin has the potential to enhance the plumage pigmentation of ornamental birds and the skin pigmentation of ornamental fish. The route of administration via feed or water for drinking are considered bioequivalent.

Panel members at the time of adoption

Gabriele Aquilina, Vasileios Bampidis, Maria De Lourdes Bastos, Lucio Guido Costa, Gerhard Flachowsky, Mikolaj Antoni Gralak, Christer Hogstrand, Lubomir Leng, Secundino López-Puente, Giovanna Martelli, Baltasar Mayo, Fernando Ramos, Derek Renshaw, Guido Rychen, Maria Saarela, Kristen Sejrsen, Patrick Van Beelen, Robert John Wallace and Johannes Westendorf.
Panel on Additives and Products or Substances used in Animal Feed
EFSA Journal 2014;12(1):3527
Question Number
On request from
European Commission