Bicol’s seaweed noodles target int’l market

Philippine seaweeds. Contributed photo
Philippine seaweeds. Contributed photo

By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur (22-Oct-2012/PNA) – Noodles manufactured from seaweeds in Bicol are getting ready to hit the international market.

“We are now securing from the Food and Drug Administration an accreditation for the seaweed noodle manufacturing facility in Tabaco City (in Albay),” Aida Andayog said.

She is the manager of the Regional Fisheries Research and Development Center of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

The accreditation is an export requirement for food safety guarantee and, once approved, this seaweed noodle manufacturing project will mark a big milestone for the community-based livelihood program that would provide a lucrative business for poverty-stricken households in Bicol.

The project run by Tabaco Faith International Church Ladies’ Association is funded by the DA’s Bureau of Agricultural Research and supported with technologies by the BAR and RFRDC.

The RFRDC V has produced value-added seaweed products like, pickles, nata de seaweed, seaweed candies, seaweed leche flan, marmalade or sandwich spread, seaweed lumpia, longganiza, and morcon.

The seaweed noodles manufactured out of the project are now reaching consumers abroad through Overseas Filipino Workers and balikbayans who have been bringing the product as “pasalubong (homecoming gift)” to the US, Canada, and the Middle East.

The demand for this product abroad is high because of its health benefits — rich in calcium, and magnesium — according to Andayog.

Apart from dietary fiber, seaweed noodles are rich in minerals, proteins and vitamins.

They are low in lipid content, but contain a significant amount of Omega-3 which is an essential fatty acids that help lower triglycerides and increase good cholesterol.

They can also act as anticoagulants and prevent blood clotting. Studies have suggested Omega 3 may help lower high blood pressure.

Seaweed noodles do not have salt and is low in sodium.

There is no monosodium glutamate either and what makes the product more attractive is its high anti-oxidant properties, according to Andayog.

Andayog said the TFIC’s seaweed noodles are prepared without preservatives.

Seaweed itself is rich in iodine, an essential trace element for the body’s growth, removal of body toxins, and prevention of mental retardation, goiter and other diseases.

Iodine content is 82.3 micrograms per 100 ml.

The seaweed is first turned into a puree. Six liters of seaweed puree is mixed with a 25-kilo sack of flour.

Shelf life of the noodles is six months to one year.

To guarantee food safety as there have been issues of metal contamination in seaweeds, the TFIC makes sure the seaweed puree is analyzed before it is mixed with flour and water.

The processed noodle is again examined for food safety before being brought to the market.

BFAR-RFRDC has obtained the help of the DOST-Food and Nutrition Research Institute for nutrition content of the noodles through BAR’s funding, Andayog added.

The Philippines has many different species of seaweeds, making it one of the world’s biggest producers of the semi-processed seaweed product called Carrageenan.

As of 2003, raw dried seaweed export was at .07 million; refined Carrageenan, US$ 41.4 million, and semi refined Carrageenan, US$ 87.1 million.

In 2004 – 2005, the country was first in the world in production of food-grade Carrageenan, raw dried seaweed, and alkali-treated chips.

There are two kinds of seaweed being cultured by local fisherfolk, the Gracilaria and Eucheuma and Philippines has been blessed with more than 100 species of seaweeds with many uses for industrial and pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Eucheuma and Kappaphycus extract is known as Carrageenan, while Agar for Gracilaria and Gelidium. The algin from sargassum is now being developed as an anti cancer ingredient.

The processing plant for these products in Bicol is within the National Seaweed Development Technology Center (NSTDC) at Barangay Cabid-an in Sorsogon City.

The BAR had also came up with a seaweed project under its Community-based Participatory Action Research program in Pilar, Sorsogon where over 300 fisherfolk from several coastal barangays are beneficiaries.

CPAR involves a survey or a Participatory Rural Appraisal that asks first the community as to what they need and how they propose to meet that need.

In a statement here BAR Director Nicomedes Eleazar said BAR’s the country has to take advantage of the fact that it is one of the world’s biggest seaweed producers in order to generate jobs particularly in coastal towns. (PNA)


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