Md. company makes salmon blush en masse

February 05, 1992

A Columbia biotechnology company that has developed a pigment to give farm-raised salmon the beautiful blush of their wild cousins said yesterday that it has manufactured the pigment on a commercial scale.

Igene Biotechnology Inc. said its product, AstaXin, was fermented in large quantity by a major U.S. manufacturer that it declined to name.

The product will be shipped to customers in South America, Japan and Pacific Rim countries to test its efficacy. Igene executives said they hope to begin producing the pigment for commercial sale.

AstaXin has not been tested in the United States because salmon are not raised on farms here, the company said.

The pigment is used because pen-raised fish, which don't eat pink creatures such as shrimp and krill, are white, said Stephen F. Hiu, president of Igene. A synthetic pigment is used, but, Mr. Hiu said a natural alternative is needed.

For the third quarter that ended Sept. 30, Igene reported a net loss of $185,000, or 2 cents a share.

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