LCI’s LimaLin Gold is made using European yellow non-GMO linseeds which are naturally high in Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – the ingredient associated with the EFSA-approved health claim on contributing to normal blood cholesterol.
The flour itself contains 13% omega-3 and can be used in sliced breads, cookies, biscuits and breakfast cereals. It was developed as a follow-on from LCI’s debut LimaLin flour, made from brown linseeds that contains 8% omega-3.
Walter Lopez, marketing executive for nutrition and biomaterials at LCI, said the ability to claim on such baked goods and breakfast cereals tapped into growing interest in omega-3s, particularly in Scandinavian countries, Germany and the UK.
“We know that the relationship with health and pleasure in food products is more and more important… All the food industry has tried to improve the health value of products and I think this kind of ingredient can tap into these mega trends,” Lopez told BakeryandSnacks.com.
Article 13 (1) EFSA health claim for Alpha-linolenic acid
“ALA contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels”
The claim may be used only for food which is at least a source of ALA as referred to in the claim SOURCE OF OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS as listed in the Annex to Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. Information shall be given to the consumer that the beneficial effect is obtained with a daily intake of 2 g of ALA.
“The claim about omega-3 is very strong, so if you look at the strategy some groups like Danone and Nestlé are taking – they’re looking for this claim… These food companies want to go strong on this claim because they want to focus on omega-3.”
The importance around omega-3, he said, had evolved and could open up many new market opportunities for companies looking to claim on it.
Formulation and processing challenges
LCI blended linseed flour with wheat flour for LimaLin Gold because Lopez said it was impossible to develop 100% linseed flour.
“This is because it’s a very unstable product due to the omega-3 content, because omega-3s are very sensitive to heat and oxidation. So, we need to mix the linseed with wheat flour in order to have a correct shelf life – one year.”
Lopez said there were some technical considerations to make when incorporating the flour into formulations or running it through production lines.
With breakfast cereal, for example, it had to be used in muesli-type products that had a crunchy texture.
“The way to make this kind of breakfast cereal – mixing all the ingredients, drying it and breaking up the sheet at the end – means it’s easy to incorporate a new ingredient. For an extruded product, it’s more complicated because you sometimes have a problem with fat content. Omega-3 ingredients are rich in fat and when you put a lot of fat in extruded products, sometimes extrusion is not so easy.”
For bread, it worked best in traditional sliced varieties, he said, where the fat content was higher.
Omega-3 cholesterol claim
Lopez said manufacturers looking to claim using the flour had to have a product that already contained omega-3 and recommended incorporating rapeseed oil as a first choice.
“We recommend rapeseed oil because it’s very cheap and nutrition-wise it’s very rich in omega-3. After, there is soybean oil, but that’s an allergen so some companies don’t want to use this ingredient.”
Manufacturers would have to include a total of 0.3 g omega-3 per 100 kcal of end product to qualify for ‘source of omega-3’ on pack – possible by using around 5% flour in breakfast cereals and 3% in biscuits, Lopez said.
EFSA's full scientific opinion the ALA health claim can be found HERE.