Research and industry in the Nordic countries are joining now together to develop healthier foods. The healthy ingredients are going to come from the sea.
Consumers and producers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of diet and food for our health.
This is why we are constantly seeing new products being launched that are fortified with additives that are supposed to provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition.
These are referred to as "functional foods".
A new research and industry network will contribute so that consumers will be able to choose from amongst a larger selection of functional products with positive health effects.
The goal of MARIFUNC – an acronym for Nordic Network for Marine Functional Food – is to develop foods that are healthier because they have been fortified with health-promoting ingredients.
The ingredients will come from fish and crustaceans.
"The purpose of MARIFUNC is, amongst other things, to document the health effects of marine ingredients in different foods", says Scientist Joop Luten at Fiskeriforskning.
He is coordinator of the network with 15 partners from industry environments and research institutions in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Norway.
It is well documented that seafood has positive health effects.
But there is still limited knowledge about the connections between different components in fish and crustaceans and the actual health-related effects.
"With better knowledge and concrete documentation in this field, it will also be possible to develop products that we know have positive health effects", says Luten.
The project is financed by Nordic Innovation Centre and will continue through 2008.