Panaferd-AX - a New Natural Source of Astaxanthin

Source in nature

Panaferd-AX is a natural source of carotenoids suitable for the pigmentation of salmonid species. The pigments are derived from the organism Paracoccus carotinifaciens, which is a bacterium that lives in natural environment. Paracoccus carotinifaciens has been shown to be non-pathogenic and not closely related to any pathogenic or harmful bacteria which have been identified.
The principal carotenoid in Panaferd-AX is astaxanthin, which has a long history of safe use in fish husbandry, and which is naturally present in the human food chain. The other natural carotenoids are closely related to astaxanthin and may also contribute to the pigmentation effect. However, Panaferd-AX is marketed on the basis of its astaxanthin content alone. The dried cellular material making up Panaferd-AX, contains more than 20g/kg natural astaxanthin and up to 50g/kg total carotenoids.


Panaferd-AX is manufactured by a fermentation process, fed by carbohydrates. The product is then sterilised and dried. It therefore contains protein, fats and other biological materials in addition to the carotenoids.
Panaferd-AX is a dark-red granular solid. The size distribution of Panaferd-AX granules is similar to that of synthetic astaxanthin products present on the market. This means that it can be handled in exactly the same way in feed preparation.
Astaxanthin can exist in several isomeric forms, each of which has slightly different properties. The astaxanthin isomers in Panaferd-AX are derived from a natural source and so are similar to astaxanthin isomers in natural marine sources of astaxanthin. Panaferd-AX astaxanthin is in the non-esterified form, which means that it is fully bio-available.

Presentation and conditions of use

Panaferd-AX is supplied in multi-layered aluminium bags, which are impermeable to air and to light.
Once packages are opened Panaferd-AX should be used fairly quickly.
Panaferd-AX will contain at least 2% astaxanthin and the exact astaxanthin content will be shown on the certificate of analysis.
The product can be mixed into feed before the extrusion process after making allowance for the different astaxanthin content.


Although Panaferd-AX does not contain any anti-oxidant such as ethoxyquin, the stability of the product is very satisfactory for at least two years from the manufacturing date. The processing stability of Panaferd-AX in comparison with synthetic astaxanthin has been thoroughly investigated. Panaferd-AX and synthetic astaxanthin showed near identical process losses when used in pre-extrusion systems. In its present form, Panaferd-AX is not suitable for post-extrusion application.
After milling, fish feeds are exposed to the atmosphere and the carotenoids may be subject to oxidation. A comparison of carotenoid losses from Panaferd-AX diets and synthetic astaxanthin diets showed similar losses. Feeds containing carotenoids should generally not be stored for prolonged periods of time.
Astaxanthin and total carotenoid concentrations can be monitored in Panaferd-AX, feed, and fish tissues using a validated high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) technique. A detailed description of the technique is available from JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation (NOE). The use of other HPLC procedures may produce incorrect results because of interferences caused by the bacterial matrix and by other carotenoids present in Panaferd-AX.

Product safety

Because Panaferd-AX is composed of dried cells of the bacteria Paracoccus carotinifaciens, all of its components are natural and are widespread in living organisms. Nevertheless, the safety of Panaferd-AX has been fully evaluated using toxicological and other tests recommended by the European Commission, the European Food Safety Authority and the US Food and Drug Administration and which are compliant with Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines. Panaferd-AX is not a skin irritant. Panaferd-AX is not harmful to the marine environment at normal use levels.


The carotenoids in Panaferd-AX are readily absorbed by salmon and trout at typical feeding levels and fish flesh colour rapidly develops. The level of pigmentation corresponds closely to that obtained with synthetic astaxanthin. Fillets are visually indistinguishable from fish produced using synthetic astaxanthin, with regards to both colour intensity and hue.
Because Panaferd-AX contains other carotenoids in addition to astaxanthin, these also deposit in salmon and trout flesh. These substances do not affect the safety of Panaferd-AX and the pigmentation produced by Panaferd-AX is as stable in fish fillets under frozen storage and light as that produced by the synthetic counterpart.


Panaferd-AX is a natural-source astaxanthin-rich bacterial pigment suitable for the pigmentation of salmon species. It is very similar to synthetic astaxanthin in terms of its appearance, properties, application and efficacy. Some of the pigmentation effects of Panaferd-AX are due to the presence of other naturally occurring carotenoids.

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