Move over acai berries and wheatgrass, there’s a new superfood in town.
Having taken the US by storm, chia seed is tipped to be the UK’s next big food craze - if the EU gives the go-ahead to an application to widen its use in products other than bread.
The small oval black or white seeds, which have a high omega-3 content and are rich in nutrients, vitamins and minerals, are currently only available loose or in bread products and mixes.
However, the EU Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes is now examining an application for chia to be approved for use in a wider range of products, including baked goods, breakfast cereals and fruit, nut & seed mixes.
Chia had a wide range of possible applications, said speciality food supplier Leathams - including dips, muesli, salads and smoothies - in addition to bread and bakery products. The company already sells a selection of grains and pulses and is exploring how the gluten-free seed could complement the range.
snacks and toppings brand Munchy Seeds also said it was waiting for the classification to widen, but was already looking at how it could include chia in one of its mixes. “We intend to run a trial and to start roasting the seeds as they appear to be a wonderful superfood,” said owner Crispin Clay.
Chia has already started to gain in popularity since being granted EU approval for use in bread products in 2009. ABF bread brand Burgen launched a loaf containing the seed in April this year. The seeds are also available in Ocado in 450g packs from Raw health (rsp: £7.89) and in a gluten-free baking mix sold in Whole Foods Market under the Amy Ruth’s brand.
Chia is originally from South America and the seeds were a key element in the diets of the Aztecs and Mayans.