10k grant for manufacture of functional foods that fight diseases

Photo above: Healthy ice cream as functional food, prepared by Republic Polytechnic students.

SINGAPORE - The Health Promotion Board (HPB) is partnering SPRING Singapore to provide grants worth more than $10,000 to Singapore's functional foods industry, which can be used by food manufacturers to tap the expertise of food scientists and turn ideas into market realities.

This was announced by Minister of State for Health Dr Amy Khor at the FINEST Food Symposium and Exhibition, which is to be held from today till tomorrow.

The events brings together more than 20 key partners in the functional food value chain such as food technologists, ingredient suppliers, R&D experts and market analysts.

The two-day exhibition features a diverse range of prototypes, from low Glycemic Index (GI) noodles, buns and muffins to heart-friendly foods and beverages fortified with Omega-3.

It also offers participants a chance to go behind the scenes by scheduling visits to local application laboratories and innovation centres for hands-on experience.

A super-sized industry currently worth about $32 billion, functional foods are foods that have been demonstrated to confer health benefits beyond basic nutrition. Examples of such foods include yoghurts containing bacterial cultures and eggs with Omega-32 fat.

In order to encourage the development and production of such foods, the FINEST Food Programme was launched last October as a one-stop resource hub, to equip industry players venturing into the functional foods market with the necessary knowledge and skills.

Working with partners in the food industry, the programme introduced salt with lower sodium content and wholegrain noodles to the mass market last year.

Since then, the overall sales volume of healthier salt has increased by 15 per cent, while the production of wholegrain noodles has jumped fourfold.

Mr Ang Hak Seng, Chief Executive Officer of HPB, said his ministry aims to help Singaporeans gain optimum nutrition in the fight against chronic diseases by first focusing on foods with low GI or fortified with Omega-3 fat, which can help with diabetes management and active ageing.

To encourage companies to develop functional foods with these components, HPB is introducing two new Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS) to help consumers identify such products, he said.

Within the next three years, HPB aims to have local companies develop and manufacture at least 30 new functional food prototypes.

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