DAVIS, Calif. — The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of gamma linolenic acid (GLA) safflower oil in cat food in response to a petition by ingredient manufacturer Arcadia Biosciences, Inc. The food and beverage additive, SONOVA® GLA safflower oil, is a sustainable plant-based source of omega-6 fatty acid.

According to Arcadia Biosciences, when included in pet nutrition, the ingredient can reduce inflammation, improve metabolism, boost immune system health and improve skin and coat health. The company reports that SONOVA GLA safflower oil is the most concentrated and cost-effective plant-based oil GLA source on the market, containing approximately 40% GLA. In comparison, other GLA oils, such as primrose or borage oil, contain 10% to 20% GLA.

“The FDA clearance of SONOVA GLA for use in cat food is another example of our proven ability to improve crops’ nutrition and value as ingredients from concept to commercialization, as with our GoodWheat™ platform,” said Raj Ketkar, president and CEO of Arcadia. “SONOVA GLA will allow cat and dog food formulators to respond to consumer demand for natural, plant-based oils as wellness ingredients for their beloved companions.”

GLA safflower oil was approved for use in human foods by the FDA in 2009 and in dog foods in 2018. In Canada, pet food formulations have included the SONOVA GLA oil in dry dog and cat food formulas since 2015.

“Increasing the concentration of omega-6 fatty acid in the safflower plant by a factor of more than 40x showcases our ability to optimize plant-based sources of high value health and nutritional ingredients,” said Matt Plavan, CFO of Arcadia and president of Arcadia Specialty Genomics, the company’s cannabis-focused business unit. “We are applying our proven innovation capabilities to the legal US hemp market, and as the regulatory pathway becomes clearer for novel pet food ingredients like CBD and hemp oil, we expect our success in shepherding SONOVA GLA through USDA and FDA regulatory processes will bring value to other growth segments in cannabis.”

Functional ingredients such as SONOVA GLA are taking off as pet owners push trends that focus on specific health and wellness factors such as digestion support, immune system health, age-specific formulas and many others.

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