From the E Daily of the International Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo 2010
Posted on 2010.08.05
Dr Sirimal Premakumara, Head of the Herbal Technology Division of the Industrial Technology Institute in Colombo, Sri Lanka, was an attendee from Sri Lanka
Exploring the Potential of Bioactives from Sri Lanka
by Karen Nachay
There are a number of value-added ingredients and bioactives from Asia that may help in the fight against diabetes, obesity, and other disorders and diseases, says experts at a panel discussion, “Bioactives and Value-added Natural Products in Asia, Now and Beyond: Prospects for Commercialization,” on Saturday, July 17.
Many edible herbs and spices are used by Sri Lankans as traditional remedies for health issues, some of which have been shown through extensive scientific tests to confer health benefits, Sirimal Premakumara, Head of the Herbal Technology Division of the Industrial Technology Institute in Colombo, Sri Lanka, told the session attendees. The worldwide growing popularity of healthy foods and ingredients offers potential for rice, herbs, spices, and other ingredients from Sri Lanka to be used in food and beverage products.
Premakumara highlighted rice, the Salacia reticulata plant, and cinnamon as having potential to maintain healthy blood glucose levels. Regarding the S. reticulata plant, he said that there are plans to cultivate the plant and sell it as tea is sold.
Sri Lanka produces rice, herbs, and spices, exporting many of them in their whole, unprocessed form. D.B. Wijeratne of the Ministry of Agriculture Development & Agrarian Services in Battaramulla, Sri Lanka, told of how his organization has formed a private—public partnership whereby the Ministry of Agriculture develops finished products that contain the ingredients and industry commercializes them. One such product is a tea said to have weight-loss properties, and includes Garcinia zelanica (a flowering plant) powder. Another tea beverage that is exported to markets around the world includes the herb gotu-kola said to have anti-inflammatory properties and collagen synthesis properties. Wijeratne also spoke of a cereal made from the rice variety suwadal, which is said to have a glycemic index as low as 35. (As a comparison, Wijeratne said that basmati rice has a glycemic index of 58.)
So will Americans see more and more of these ingredients and products in the United States? It depends if they meet standards and safety requirements established by the U.S. government, said Ramkishan Rao of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture in Washington, D.C. Importers of these bioactive ingredients and products that contain them need to keep in mind that U.S. law does not have a formal definition of functional foods, that functional foods are regulated under the same laws that regulate foods, and that dietary supplements are governed by the Dietary Supplements and Health Education Act of 1994, according to Rao.
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