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A sea change in food product development

Forgive the pun, but a sea change is taking place in response to western and global health concerns.

In many areas of human endeavour, the endless treatment of symptoms - no longer sustainable - is giving way to broader, holistic approaches which seek sustainable remedies in the realm of cause.

In the food chain - for years - industry, agriculture and politicians have pursued the most expedient routes to growth, failing to consider the whole health of soil, plants, animals and people.

Although support for a more holistic approach has grown: “The healthiness of a food alone seems to be an important determinant of food choice for only a small sector of the population. For this reason, implicit improvements in the nutrient profile of foods by the food industry are essential to have any substantial influence on public health” - R. Foster, British Nutrition Foundation scientist, 'Factors affecting improvements in the British diet', National Health Dietician magazine, Issue 29, p21, 2007.

Seaweed responds to these concerns in numerous ways.

It contains all the minerals and micronutrients missing from our soils and food in ideal natural proportions; it is eminently suitable for inclusion in soil, plants, animals and humans.

As a human food ingredient, it will contribute to dietary balance in millions of people. In the case of Seagreens® it is a Certified Organic, nutrient rich, low-energy food – exactly what is needed to compensate for declining levels of physical activity among industrialised populations.

In 2007, working on salt reduction in special diet ready meals with Pure Organics and Wall-Mart owned Asda, one of Britain’s largest supermarket chains, Seagreens® was selected for Food Innovation, a British Government-funded research project at Sheffield Hallam University.

The Food Innovation project was set up to find natural alternatives to potentially harmful ingredients like fats, sugars, and salt.

Seagreens® ability to replace salt, act on cholesterol, add important micronutrients, improve flavour as well as preserve food like salt, stimulated further interest in what seaweed might contribute in weight regulation, obesity, diabetes and other metabolic disorders.

The Seaweed Health Foundation joint-funded the first whole food seaweed study in obesity at the newly formed Centre for Food Innovation in 2009. It won the 2010 Alpro Foundation Masters' Award.

Other health concerns where Seagreens may have potential - including the full range of special needs, autistic spectrum disorders, cancer and detoxification - are no less important, but substantial research is needed to confirm claims for its efficacy as a food ingredient.

In 2009 Seagreens was invited to address the annual Food Industry’s New Product Development Conference at Stratford, Shakespeare's home town. It was the first time a natural whole food ingredient - let alone seaweed - had ever been showcased.

Cathryn Higgs, Scientific & Responsible Retailing Manager speaking for The Co-operative Food stores, Britain’s fifth largest food retailer, confirmed that for at least some of these industry leaders: “It’s not about yet another new range of the same kind of foods; (what is needed) is a fundamental change in the way we consider reformulations and new products”.

Hebrides sea change
A sea change in response to global health concerns