• Open Access

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


  • EFSA Panel on Additives and Products or Substances used in Animal Feed (FEEDAP)

  • Panel members: 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.
  • Correspondence: feedap@efsa.europa.eu
  • Acknowledgement: The Panel wishes to thank the members of the Working Group on Colouring Agents, including Georges Bories, Jürgen Gropp and Anne-Katrine Haldorsen, for the preparatory work on this scientific opinion.
  • Adoption date: 3 December 2013
  • Published date: 17 January 2014
  • Question number: EFSA-Q-2009-00486
  • On request from: European Commission


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.