Chia seed (salvia hispanica) comes from a plant in the mint family. The seeds are rich in protein, fibre and amino acids - and also omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
It was first granted novel foods approval in October 2009 to Columbus Paradigm Institute and Chilean firm Functional Products Trading, for the use of Latin American-grown chia seed in bread at levels of up to 5 per cent. This approval followed a positive safety opinion from the European Food Safety Authority last March.
Australia’s The Chia Company is now seeking permission to market its Australia-grown chia seed in the bloc. It, too, is proposing the seeds be used in bread, at the same usage level. The manufacturing process used is similar, and so are the levels of undesirable heavy metals.
Chai seeds have already been used in the US in nutritional supplements, bars, breakfast cereal and cookies. In Chile they have also been used in pasta, and in Australia and New Zealand in a yoghurt product made by Fonterra.
Launches this year?
Functional Products Trading’s chia is branded Benexia, and is distributed by French firm Ingredia Nutritional in Europe and Pharmachem-owned Proprietary Nutritionals in North America.
Ingredia business development manager, Kaare Axelsen, told NutraIngredients.com last autumn that dialogue was advancing with several major European bakeries in Scandinavia, Western Europe and the Balkans.
“We expect a bread to launch toward the latter part of 2010,” he said. “Bakeries have for a long time been looking to get omega-3 into bread but there have been taste and texture problems. The thing with chia is that its nutrient profile presents a huge opportunity for people to do something different.”
Preparations are understood to be underway to seek approval for chia oil, powder and protein, in addition to the seeds.
The Chia Company’s novel foods application has been submitted to the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA), which is now accepting comments from stakeholders until 25 February.
More information on the application and comment-making procedure is available via this link.