Rights: The University of Waikato Published 8 July 2009 Download

Most of us don’t eat enough fish to meet the recommended daily intake of omega-3. To increase our intake, scientists at the Riddet Institute are developing a new process for fortifying foods with omega-3. This process is difficult because adding large amounts of omega-3 to foods can make them taste and smell fishy.


Dr Harjinder Singh (Riddet Institute)

If you look in terms of the recommended intake of omega-3 we need to have to achieve those health benefits, then we are certainly not eating enough fish. The recommended intake of omega-3 is around 500 mg per day and that translates to something like 3–4 servings of fish per week. And not just any fish – this relates to oily fish. Most western populations would not achieve that target. We’re trying to get as much of the recommended daily allowance in a given serving – so, for example, we may have 1 bar or 1 muffin, 2 slices of bread, 250 ml of milk and 400 ml of juice, so it’s a single serving idea. Even if we can deliver about 50% of the daily recommended allowance through that means, it would be quite a big step.

Four years ago, we realised there was an opportunity in that space of functional foods basically related to omega-3 fortified foods. There are a number of companies that manufacture and sell microencapsulated fish oil. The main problem is that the level of oil that can be added from those existing commercial encapsulated oils is very low. You can add only very small amounts, in other words, before the oxidation and fishiness and odour will become a problem.

We were looking for an opportunity whereby we can develop a new technology which will allow us to add larger quantities of omega-3 to food products, so you don’t have to eat 10 loaves of bread to get your daily intake. So we were looking for something more meaningful whereby, in 2 slices of bread for example, you may be able to get all your daily allowance. That was the driving force and that lead us to develop this novel emulsion technology. And through this technology, we were able to add much more in a given serving than existing technologies. The concept is not new, but the idea of pushing the limits was the one that drove us to this research.

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