Canada’s Advantage Health Matters, importer and distributor of leading brands of organic whole-based food supplements, has now gained approval to sell chia as a novel food in Europe.

Jerry Zeifman, founder of Advantage Health Matters in 2001, says the motivation to offer chia products in Europe came from being a longstanding supporter of chia well before the “chia craze” began.

“We are deeply committed to promoting chia as a nutritional powerhouse and needed the chia license to supply the EU market at a reasonable cost. Our long-term vision is to offer chia not only in many of our existing products to the EU market but also in many of our new product launches,” Mr Zeifman says.

It was a two-year process to prepare the dossier for the novel food application of equivalency for chia. “It involved a lot of paperwork, technical information and nutritional analysis with testing and retesting,” Mr Zeifman says.

A challenge for Advantage Health Matters came in May 2014 when the company was among the US and Canadian chia suppliers caught up in the outbreak of salmonella that affected at least 31 consumers in Canada and the US. The salmonella contamination was identified as coming from Canadian firm Bioessential Botanicals, where the chia seeds were sprouted.

“The lesson that we learned from the incident was that despite buying Certified Organic seed and processing it at an organic sprouting facility we still ended up with a salmonella contamination issue. We made the decision that the only way to combat this was to treat preventatively rather than to rely on random testing,” Mr Zeifman explains.

“In our quest to provide the highest quality and integrity seed and sprouted products we have introduced an in-house safety optimization process. We are committed to eliminating foodborne pathogens and to ensuring the utmost safety and security of our superfood products.

“We utilize reverse osmosis technology with activated multiple-stage sediment pre-filters, carbon filters and ultraviolet light to ensure the highest quality water filtration possible. Reverse osmosis filtration is the gold standard for removing common contaminants found in the water supply such as fluoride, arsenic, lead, mercury and other metals.

“Critical to our seed and sprout optimization process is the use of a food-grade, organic sanitizer that destroys pathogens on the surface as well as inside micro-crevices in the seeds.  By applying an organic sanitizer as a preventative step, we can ensure the very best in food safety.”

Mr Zeifman says the organic sanitizer (a patented process) is made from all natural ingredients. The sanitizer degrades into water and carbon dioxide, leaving no residue, taste or smell. The seed is sanitized without altering the nutritional composition, taste or texture.

Advantage Health Matters is offering this natural sanitation technology to other suppliers of chia seeds and other ingredients that could contain salmonella and other pathogens and to pre-pack the products under their private label. Mr Zeifman describes the technology as truly a breakthrough in food safety in the industry.

Advantage Health Matters is marketing chia seeds, sprouted chia and over 100 unique superfoods, herbs, healthy fats and sweeteners under the Organic Traditions brand and is open to private label opportunities.  The company will be exhibiting at BIOFACH 2016 introducing new superfood blends with prebiotics and probiotics. “The beneficial bacteria we are using survives stomach acidity, is shelf stable, does not require refrigeration and can be added to both hot and cold drinks and recipes.”

Advantage Health Matters will also show its Organic Traditions line at CHFA Expo West in Vancouver in May, and CHFA Expo East in Toronto and the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore in the fall.