Recent studies have suggested that green tea may play a role in weight control and reducing body fat. It has also been widely studied for its anti-cancer activity and benefits to skin health.
However Teavigo is said to have the highest content of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) - the predominant catechin in green tea and the one widely studied for its anti-cancer activity - in all currently available green tea extracts, at 94 per cent.
This also means that it is considerably higher than in traditional green tea, prompting DSM to seek approval with food authorities before launching it in Europe.
"It contains the same component as that found in green tea but at a very high level. We sent a dossier of scientific and technical information to the Italian Ministry of Health and they sent us an opinion considering it to be safe for use in food, food supplements and cosmetics," Stefania Vulcano, external affairs manager for DSM in Italy, told NutraIngredients.com.
While purified ECEG has not been available in Europe until now, awareness of the benefits of green tea is already growing rapidly, reflected in sales of the beverage. According to market analysts Datamonitor, green tea consumption in 2002 in the UK was more than 20 times the 1997 figure.
Green tea catechins are also booming in the US, primarily used in weight loss products, especially since the removal of ephedra from the market, which left a gap for thermogenic products.
DSM produces Teavigo at a new plant in Shanghai, China, which has an annual output of 40 tons. The company launched the product last year in Asia, China and Latin America and it was introduced for dietary supplements in the US earlier this year.
Vulcano said the first product - a supplement - is expected to be available in Italy in the first quarter of next year.
Other European markets could follow soon after.
"This is the basis on which we can work for further approval in Europe. We would still like to seek approval from individual country authorities but we can use a summary of the data submitted in Italy as a reference of prior approval," said Vulcano.
Teavigo can also be added to foods and beverages as unlike other common green tea extracts, Teavigo is nearly colourless and does not have a bitter taste. It is available in both powder and granular form.