Chia close to winning EU Novel Foods approval

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

A chia seed is on the verge of difficult-to-come-by European Union Novel Foods approval for use in bread products, with further categories potentially coming onboard down the line.

The approval is for a version of the ‘super seed’ known as an ancient grain along with the likes of quinoa, kamut and amaranth and is distributed by New Jersey-based, Proprietary Nutritionals. It is called Benexia.

It is the edible seed of the desert plant Salvia hispanica​, a member of the mint family, which grows in Latin American countries including Mexico, Argentina and Peru, and is gaining in popularity as a nutrient-dense source of omega-3s, 6s as well as protein, calcium and fibre.

Persistence pays off

Pharmachem-owned Proprietary Nutritionals president, Dean Mosca, welcomed the approval which involved “much persistence and investment”​.

“Plans are now underway to expand the applications permitted as well as the chia products that can be used. Currently the only chia seed permissible for sale in the EU, Benexia seed will stay in the forefront of approved applications and types of chia products that can be sold,”​ he said.

The dossier was submitted in 2006 by the Columbus Paradigm Institute in collaboration with Chilean firm, Functional Products Trading.

Functional Products Trading is the company that grows and commercialises Benexia chia Seed.

More chia

The application was transferred from a previous Novel Foods application submitted by Irish egg producer Robert Craig & Sons in 2003 submission for soft grain bread is set for a green light.

Craig & Sons said it had previously been asked for further toxicology and allergenicity information by the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA), to which it had submitted its claim, which it had provided.

Benexia is available as flour (defatted bran), oil, water-soluble omega-3 microencapsulated powder or as bulk, sprouted or milled seed. It is targeted at the food and nutraceuticals industries and Proprietary Nutritionals said it is taste neutral.

“Adding Benexia chia to food or beverages gives them an excellent/upgraded nutritional profile without compromising taste,”​ the company said. “It incorporates easily into a variety of foods, including baked goods, snacks, bars and drink mixes.”

Market

Although chia has not traditionally formed part of the western diet, figures released by Datamonitor last year suggest that the ingredient is being increasingly used as a ‘novel’ functional ingredient.

In 2007, there were 515 new products launched globally that contained ancient grains, essentially doubling the 257 launches recorded in 2005.

This story has been amended to reflect the fact any opinion still requires member state authorisation.

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