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The Application of Edible Seaweed for Taste Enhancement and Salt Replacement

Final Report Summary - TASTE (The Application of Edible Seaweed for Taste Enhancement and Salt Replacement)

Executive Summary:
Health authorities worldwide have recommended reducing salt in processed foods in order to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and a consequent higher risk of cardiovascular disease. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends no more than 2 grams of sodium (5 grams of salt) per day but the current daily salt consumption in most European countries is estimated or measured to be between 8 to 12 grams per day. With approximately 75% of the average daily salt intake coming from processed food, the food industry is facing a major challenge to reduce the levels of salt used. Salt, i.e. sodium chloride, is primarily added for taste but plays an important role as a preservative and also as a processing aid. Reduction of salt therefore poses potential issues not only with consumer acceptance but also for the quality and safety of reformulated products.
Seaweeds have a naturally salty taste being abundant in minerals like potassium and magnesium besides sodium. This salty taste improves the flavour profile of foodstuffs. In addition, some seaweeds contain a range of potential flavour components that can naturally enhance the flavour of the food. In particular, the proteinaceous compounds that are present in the seaweeds may be responsible for enhancing flavour characteristics (e.g. umami, meaty and roasted) in addition to providing textural mouth feel.
The main objective of the TASTE project was to develop flavour ingredients from edible brown seaweeds, i.e. Ascophyllum nodosum, Saccarina latissima and Fucus vesiculosus, with the potential to replace sodium in food products that traditionally contain high levels of sodium. Specifically, the aim was to produce flavour-active building blocks from seaweeds by applying enzymatic methods along with physical processing techniques and to develop new healthy flavour ingredients for application in different salt-reduced foods. The SMEs, participating in the TASTE project, together with a larger accompanying partner, were a group of companies from the food and seaweed industries that are rising to the salt reduction challenge.
A number of technical and commercial challenges were faced by the consortium, especially in overcoming the characteristic undesirable taste and flavour of unprocessed seaweeds such as bitter, astringent and algae-like attributes. Therefore, a seaweed flavour language was established and odour-active compounds of the seaweed species were identifed at the beginning of the project in order to lay the foundation for evaluation throughout the project. In addition to the core enzymatic hydrolysis process, different pre- treatments to break down the cell structure to help the release of aroma precursors and different post-treatments to remove off-aromas and to improve yield and quality were tested. A number of enzymes were applied, both commercial food approved enzymes and new alginate lyase enzymes which were delivered by SME partner Prokazyme but were not food approved. A process to produce seaweed flavour building blocks, using physical and enzymatic methods was designed. Building blocks, produced using food grade enzymes, were tested in number of food models by the industry and RTD partners. During the course of the project a detailed sensory and chemical characterisation was performed on the seaweed building blocks that were developed and then applied in food model systems.. The seaweed ingredients produced with commercial food approved enzymes showed only slight or no salt reduction properties and little taste enhancement properties and thus they were deemed not commercially viable for the SMEs. However, close to the end of the project the Prokazyme produced a small quantity of endotoxin free alginase that was safe for human consumption. In the final stage of the project, this alginase was incorporated into the lab scale production of two building blocks, from A. nodosum and S. latissima. Sensory evaluation showed a significant effect of the alginase treatment on the flavour profile of these building blocks. These scientific advances, which occurred very late in the project, were recognised by the SME group to show some commercial potential. Therefore, the SME group remains positive to the potential use of seaweed ingredients for salt reduction and flavour enhancement and have agreed that further research and development is required to advance the work that has been carried out under the TASTE project.

Project Context and Objectives:
The main objective of the TASTE project was to develop flavour ingredients from edible seaweeds (Ascophyllum nodosum, Saccharina latissima, and Fucus vesiculosus) with the potential to replace sodium in food products that traditionally contain high levels of sodium. High dietary intake of salt has been identified as a major health risk factor since table salt (sodium chloride) contains 42% sodium. High dietary intake of sodium has been clinically linked to high blood pressure (hypertension), which is a major health risk factor for coronary heart disease. Due to these findings, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended that average daily intake of table salt should not be more than 5 g per day or less than 2 grams of sodium per day.
Salt (sodium chloride) is primarily added to food products for taste but plays an important role as a preservative and also as a processing aid. Reduction of salt can therefore pose potential issues with the quality and safety of reformulated products in addition to affecting the taste and consumer acceptance. The development of new strategies and technologies for salt reduction is a key driver across all sectors of the food industry today. With approximately 75% of the average daily salt intake coming from processed foods such as bread, meat products, cheeses, ready meals, soups, breakfast cereals, crisps and savoury snacks, the food industry is facing a major challenge to reduce the levels of salt used.
Sodium replacement and natural flavour enhancement are both key drivers in the food industry today. There is a global push towards developing products and ingredients that are low in sodium but all the same “natural”. Hence, companies across all sectors of the food industry are seeking new and interesting ingredients that are derived from natural sources. However, developing tasty and safe salt-reduced food products is not an easy task, especially for SMEs, as not only sensory problems occur, but also the technology and safety of foods are affected. Salt replacers that are already on the market generally do not fulfil all the requirements sufficiently, and developing new salt replacers is too expensive for food producing SMEs to undertake. A number of strategies are successfully being used by industry to reduce salt levels in foodstuffs but all have their limitations and it is generally accepted that a combined approach will be required to meet reduction targets. One approach is to replace salt with mineral blends, natural salts and other compounds that act to increase the perceived saltiness and to enhance flavour. This is where edible seaweed shows potential.
Seaweeds are naturally rich sources of minerals and trace elements making them an ideal source of natural minerals. In particular, sodium, potassium and magnesium are important for taste enhancement. Although sodium is naturally present in high levels, it generally occurs at lower than or similar levels to potassium and is balanced in respect to the total mineral content. Seaweeds also contain relatively high levels of protein from which important flavour compounds like glutamates, amino acids and some peptides are derived. These proteinaceous compounds may be responsible for enhancing flavour characteristics such as umami, meaty-like attributes in addition to providing textural mouth feel. Seaweed also contain polysaccharides which may act as a source of potential flavour components, e.g. reducing sugars which are important reactants for flavour generation processes such as the Maillard. Basic seaweed products (granules and powders) for natural sodium replacement have limitations due to the texture and flavour of the seaweed. However, using innovative processing techniques that unlock the natural flavour components the seaweeds could have potential salt reducing and flavour enhancing properties.
The TASTE project aimed at developing flavour-active and/or salty ingredients from edible seaweeds (i.e. Ascophyllum nodosum, Saccharina latissima and Fucus vesiculosus) with the potential to replace sodium in food products. This was aimed to be achieved through the action of flavour-active or salty compounds such as proteins and minerals, or through the flavour-enhancing potential of compounds released from the seaweeds upon suitable processing developed. The scientific and technical objectives can be summarised as follows:
1) Identification of suitable protocols and benchmarks to evaluate the performance of the new seaweed compounds and the final flavour ingredients: The most feasible methods for evaluation of chemical, physical and sensory properties were identified. Methodology /language for describing aroma and taste characteristics of seaweed compounds, ingredients and suitable competing products was developed. Commercial comparators were selected through literature review and market research and characterised using the former selected protocols.
2) Development of processing methods to “unlock“ flavour-active or flavour enhancing compounds in seaweeds and production of a variety of “building blocks” from edible seaweeds, i.e. (mixtures of) compounds with potential to provide or enhance flavour or salty taste: Different processing methods that have potential to release or unlock the flavour components of the seaweeds were examined with the main focus on enzymatic hydrolysis of the raw material using existing enzymes and new already cloned enzymes. Effects of different mechanical processing were also tested. The potential processing methods were transferred to pilot plant scale and evaluated for feasibility and economy.
3) Assessment and identification of seaweed building blocks in food models and development of seaweed-based flavour ingredients: Basic recipes for sausages and sauces, snacks and soups, and bakery products were examined in order to develop salt-reduced products and salt-replacement ingredients for these product groups.

In addition, the project aimed to provide SMEs and with information about:
1) Development of healthy ingredients from seaweeds
2) Quality assessment of seaweeds for flavour production
3) Characterization of flavours from seaweeds.
4) Identification of process to unlock flavour compounds from seaweeds.
5) Isolation of positive flavour compounds from seaweeds with potential flavour enhancing properties
6) Development of tasty food products with low salt contents and natural flavour enhancers

The objectives listed above are further reflected in the descriptions of the deliverables, milestones and results (given below).

Project Results:
A number of technical and commercial challenges were faced by the consortium. In particular, it was necessary to overcome the characteristic but undesirable taste and flavour of unprocessed seaweeds, such as bitter, astringent and algae-like attributes. Additionally, there were problems with the alginate lyase enzymes which were deemed essential in degrading the cell wall of the seaweed. The use of commercially available alginate lyase enzymes did not prove successful and building blocks produced using the new alginate lyase enzymes supplied by SME partner Prokazyme could not be assessed by sensory panels until the final stages of the project. This highly active new alginate lyase is derived from the thermophilic bacterium Rhodothermus marinus, which has been isolated from seaweed material in coastal hot springs (Iceland). Therefore, due to issues concerning the safety and regulation of enzyme use in food products, it was not possible to evaluate the sensorial quality of building blocks produced using this new alginase lyase. However, it was decided in the first period of the project to divide the development of the enzymatic hydrolysis into two parallel lines of research: (i) using commercial food approved enzymes to deliver short term benefit to SMEs and (ii) using Prokazyme enzymes which are not food approved enzymes at present but that offer better future potential and innovation. Due to these above mentioned issues, some difficulties arose in following the timeline and in reaching all of the scientific and technical goals of the project. During the project period it was realised that the timeframe, two years, was too short for such a challenging project. A crucial development in the research came very late in the project when SME partner Prokazyme produced a small quantity of endotoxin free alginase and subsequent sensory evaluation showed a significant effect of the alginase treatment on the flavour profile of the building blocks developed. Despite this scientific advance coming very late in the project, it was recognised by the SME group to show some commercial potential. Therefore, the SME group remains positive to the potential use of seaweed ingredients for salt reduction and flavour enhancement and have agreed that further research and development is required to advance the work that has been carried out under the TASTE project.

The project was divided into three main parts according to the objectives and accompanied by the horizontal activities of dissemination and training.

In the first part of the project (WP1), a baseline study on seaweeds was carried out including the development of methods needed for further process and product evaluation such as training of sensory panels for characteristic aroma and taste of seaweeds as well as flavour enhancing potential. Characterization of the brown seaweed species in question was carried out in order to gain knowledge on the raw material. Suitable market-available comparators with which to benchmark the new flavour ingredients were identified and evaluated. The methods established within this work package were used throughout the project to evaluate process performance and product qualities.
The second part focused on the process development of building blocks (i.e. single substances and compounds or natural mixtures thereof) with the main focus on enzyme hydrolysis to unlock minerals, flavour-active and flavour enhancing compounds (WP2). In addition, physical methods such as milling, blanching and stripping prior to or after the enzyme hydrolysis were studied. The most promising processing steps identified in lab-scale were transferred to pilot scale and optimized regarding the feasibility in technical scale and the economic viability of the process (WP4).
The third part of the project aimed at assessing the performance of the building blocks using simplified food recipes (model foods) in order to identify the most promising building blocks and to gain fundamental understanding of the necessary adaptations (WP3). Finally, the impact of the new flavour ingredients on food quality were studied to gain experience in the application of these new flavour ingredients (WP5).
A concise summary of the main results and progress made in the project follows. For clarity it is arranged according to the work packages with the main significant results specifically emphasized.

WP 1 – Sensory and chemical evaluation and baseline study
The objectives in WP1 were (i) to establish a seaweed-specific flavour language to characterise sensory properties, (ii) characterise the raw materials regarding interesting or critical constituents, (iii) define targets and benchmarks for seaweed ingredients and (iv) to identify and select the most feasible and meaningful methods for further evaluation of the seaweeds and derived products in WPs 2-5.
Summary of progress:
The first part of the project was the establishment of a flavour language by all partners involved in sensory evaluation, which could be used in all following sensory assessments and training of all involved sensory panels. A workshop was held in connection with the kick-off meeting where the flavour language was established. The sensory panels of partners were subsequently trained in-house in order to guarantee a uniform flavour characterisation. The experienced sensory panels were trained to evaluate and characterise the aroma, taste and flavour-enhancing potential of the seaweeds.
Secondly, chemical characterisation of the three seaweed species was carried out in order to identify any taste active compounds and structural components that could act as precursors or taste active compounds e.g. minerals, proteins and amino acids. Finally, the SME directed requirements for potential food products containing the seaweed building blocks were defined, suitable commercial comparators and benchmarks were also identified and evaluated using sensory analysis.
Significant results:
Sensory evaluation of the relevant characteristics of three different seaweeds (A. nodosum, F. vesiculosus, S. latissima,) was performed in order to create a base for further ingredient development. The application of the developed flavour language was complicated, because of the different cultural backgrounds and different experience with sensory tests between the various panels. Longer and more intense training of the panels to ensure better harmonization between the sensory panels would have been a solution strategy. However this would have taken several months and the project timeframe did not allow for this. The concept of Free Choice Profiling (FCP) was introduced by Partner Frutarom-Etol and subsequently was used alone or in combination with quantitative descriptive analysis (QDA) for the sensory testing of the seaweeds. Both methods were suitable for seaweed characterisation but in particular FCP was very time consuming. The final result was to apply QDA for characterisation of products with seaweed flavour language modified for each panel. The unprocessed seaweeds exhibited characteristic but undesirable flavour. In particular, bitter, astringent, rubbery, fishy, sea- and algae-like attributes were evaluated as dominant notes. Minimisation and/or elimination of these undesirable attributes was therefore necessary for future application of building blocks in foods.
The chemical composition of unprocessed seaweeds revealed different contents in minerals, carbohydrates and proteins that could affect the building of aroma compounds. The odour-active compounds in three unprocessed seaweeds were identified successfully and about 30 odorants were evaluated as main contributors to seaweed aroma. Based on the chemical nature of the odorants and knowledge on odorant generation/degradation, strategies were developed in order to minimise or eliminate the odorants and in consequence undesirable seaweed odour.
With regard to the product requirements, the following aims were identified. The general target of 25% salt reduction with acceptable sensory perception was identified by all partners. This meant that the typical taste of foods could be kept, and that sensory perception should not differ from the conventional product. No strange olfactory notes, no colour and aroma deterioration should be detected. Safety and declaration should not be affected and the products should fulfil “clean label” criteria: no (new) allergens, no new E numbers / no novel food. Moreover, general safety aspects should be regarded, especially the absence of toxins/PSP (possibly due to treatment with new enzymes), possibly increased contents of heavy metals and radiology, dioxins, nitrates and pesticides possibly provided by seaweeds have to be controlled. The price of the salt-reduced product should not be much increased, but differences are expected according to food product and country.
Since labelling and safety issues showed to be very important considering the use of seaweeds and the use of new enzymes, a detailed survey was performed dealing with legislation and safety aspects. The results showed that: the three species used in TASTE are not considered as novel foods, but the use of novel processing or new enzymes could present possible issues. However, the Novel Food Regulation does not cover food flavourings. By definition, the TASTE flavourings will most likely fall into the classification of “Flavouring preparations“, which do not need to undergo an evaluation or an approval procedure for use in and on foods.
A market research study on salt-reduced food products was performed via the internet and in supermarkets in France, Germany, and Spain in order to identify suitable commercially available salt replacers and flavour enhancement ingredients with which to benchmark the seaweed flavour ingredients. The aim was to state the market situation and identify needs and constraints for new products. As conclusion from this market research on food products, the aim for food development within the TASTE project of 25% reduced salt content was confirmed, since this is the legal level to be reached in order to advertise “salt reduction”.
Regarding salt modulators on the market, a market research study on available products was performed using information provided by different producers as well as other accessible information on the internet.
A range of mineral salt blends was identified as suitable benchmarks from a technical point of view. However, all these products revealed off-flavours. A few taste enhancers have been identified as benchmark products concerning taste enhancement and were used to compare the final products.

Work package 2– Process development
The objectives in WP2 were to (i) develop processing methodology to produce a range of seaweed derived “building blocks” (i.e. salty and flavour –active fractions), (ii) to test existing enzymes and produce new enzymes and test them on the target seaweeds and their fractions and (iii) to identify and choose the most promising processing / fractions and raw materials.
Summary of progress:
A process to produce seaweed flavour building blocks, using both physical and enzymatic methods was designed within this WP. Due to issues concerning the safety and regulation of enzyme use in food products, it was decided in the first period of the project to divide the development of the enzymatic hydrolysis into two parallel lines of research mainly (i) using commercial food approved enzymes to deliver short term benefit to SMEs and (ii) using Prokazyme enzymes which are not food approved enzymes at present but that offer better future potential and innovation. Physical methods were also developed to break down the cell structure in order to help to unlock the flavour components and precursors. Different treatments were tested after enzymatic hydrolysis to improve yield and quality. The different building blocks produced were assessed according to the methods evaluated in WP2.
Significant results:
An initial evaluation of the seaweed material resulted in the decision to focus on A. nodosum and S. latissima and to drop F. vesiculosus since this species was extremely difficult to clean and handle as a raw material and revealed the most off-flavours. Availability of F. vesiculosus is also low. The other species represented two different types of brown seaweed, fucoid and kelp, respectively.
Several process flow designs were proposed and modified during the course of this WP before a final process flow was decided on and optimised. In addition to the core activity of the development of an enzymatic hydrolysis process, different pre-processing steps were tested e.g. use of different milling devices and methods as well as heat treatments.
Heat treatment before hydrolysis resulted in less seaweed flavour of the building blocks. Building blocks made from dry milled seaweed had a stronger chemical flavour than building blocks made from wet milled seaweed. Therefore wet milling was proposed as pre-processing step. Blanching of A. nodosum resulted in building blocks with lowered metallic flavour. Stripping with nitrogen gas of the algae solutions showed positive trends to diminish off-flavours. In order remove polyphenols from the products – which can give a bitter taste – e.g. PVP was tested but without success, no decrease in polyphenol content was seen in samples treated with PVP. Centrifugation and sieving after enzymatic treatment have been studied and showed no positive effects according to yield of the process and a reduction of off-flavours. Maillard reaction performed by Calaf did not give good results due to marine off notes. Freeze drying has been tested but did not show positive effects.
Different types of carbohydrate degrading enzymes, i.e. fucosidase, laminarianase and alginases, and a number of protease enzymes were tested. These enzymes were either obtained from SME partner Prokazyme or were commercially available.
Combination of different protease enzymes did not give a better result than using a single enzyme and also added complexity and extra cost to the procedure. Therefore it was concluded to proceed with only one commercially available protease. The proteasewas more effective on S. latissima than A. nodosum building blocks by lowering the chemical flavour of the building blocks. Trials with the Prokazyme enzymes revealed that one specific alginate lyase enzyme had the best capacity to degrade the algal cells and increse soluble material in the seaweed extracts. However, the products produced with the enzyme could not be tested by sensory evaluation until the very end of the project due to endotoxin contamination of the enzyme. Amino acid analysis was therefore used as an indicator of potential flavour enhancement. Close to the end of the project a small quantity of endotoxin free alginase was produced and building blocks produced with alginase and protease hydrolysis. Sensory evaluation showed a significant effect of the alginase treatment on the flavour profile of these building blocks. The results need to be confirmed with repeated production and sensory evaluation of alginase/protease processed building blocks.

A number of seaweed building blocks were produced within this WP and were characterised with regard to chemical composition, aroma and taste according to the methods described in WP1. In particular, the salt-reducing potential of the fractions were evaluated by sensory trials and the mineral content of each fraction determined in order to provide basic information on the salt-replacing potential of the building blocks. Based on these results, the most promising building blocks for NaCl replacement were selected for further studies.


Work package 3 – Application of seaweed building blocks in food model and development of seaweed-based flavour ingredient
The objectives in WP3 were (i) to assess the salt-reducing and flavour-enhancing potential of the novel seaweed building blocks in a range of food products in lab scale, (ii) to show their impact on product quality (aroma, taste, texture, safety), and (iii) to develop seaweed-based flavour ingredients by using carrier materials such as herbs.
Summary of progress:
In line with the aims and objectives of work page 3 (WP3), as stated above, seaweed powders, unprocessed seaweeds and several building blocks from seaweeds processed under different conditions and with different enzymes were applied to broth, sausages, fish cakes, bread and snacks, food products target in WP1. The sensory and technological aspects of these foods were investigated in detail. The effects of salt reduction on the aroma, flavour and taste were investigated, as were the technological properties such as rheological behaviour (dough), texture and colour (sausages and bread). Commercially available salt replacers were tested in sausage and white bread with regard to the influence of the ingredients on sensory and technological properties. Possibilities and limitations for these products were ascertained.

Significant results:
The performance of seaweeds processed only by milling was tested in sausages, soups and bread and was shown to be unsuitable. Nevertheless, the potential of the alginate component to compensate for reduced textural properties became apparent. Taste enhancement by use of the seaweed building blocks in combination with other functionalities achieved by adding other ingredients during development of the seaweed flavour ingredients was evaluated. Seaweed building blocks from enzymatic processing were tested in sensory trials and in bread. The aroma profile of the seaweeds was enhanced by the enzymatic processing. Off-tastes and dark colour were identified as limiting the food quality and require improvement by processing and dosage adjustment. Seaweed-based ingredients for replacement of salt in soups and snacks were tested. The performances of these ingredients were assessed and the quality requirements were adapted as necessary. A model snack seasoning product was investigated in terms of the sensory influence of building blocks used in snack products. A salt enhancement from inclusion of seaweed building blocks in these snacks was not achieved. No significant salt enhancement was observed in broths made using seaweed powder and building blocks, as determined via sensory assessments. Nevertheless a trend in salt enhancement was apparent in some cases, although with a corresponding undesirable contribution to the overall aroma of the product by the presence of a seaweed-like aroma.
General and specific requirements for the application of seaweed building blocks in bakery products were defined; more specifically a standard recipe for yeast fermented wheat breads was described. The fundamental effects of salt reduction on a sour-dough bread formulation were investigated in view of technological and sensory parameters. A range of colouring and masking ingredients were applied in salt-reduced bread and investigated in terms of their technological and sensorial performances. Use of seaweed powder and building blocks negatively influenced both perceivable aroma and the visual appearance (green/brown colour) of breads.

Work package 4 – Pilot scale processing of seaweeds and economic evaluation
The objectives in WP4 were (i) to produce sufficient quantities of seaweed compounds/ “building blocks” for formulation and evaluation of seaweed ingredients in WP5 to show their impact on product quality (aroma, taste, texture, safety) and (ii) to evaluate feasibility and economy of processing.
Summary of progress:
A pilot scale production of seaweed “building blocks” was performed based on the process that was developed and optimised in the laboratory phase (WP2). Preliminary trials were performed in order to combine and optimize the processes developed.

Significant results:
Preliminary scale-up tests were performed in order to combine and optimize the results from physical and enzymatic process developments performed by the RTDs. The main challenges were the high alginate content of the seaweed as well as large quotas of off-flavours and off-odorants. Several kilos of both building blocks were produced for application tests in WP5. All intensive processing steps of the raw algae could not completely remove the off-flavours of the building blocks. Processing of seaweed affected the colour of the products from green to a brownish colour.
No salt enhancing effect in broths was demonstrated for any of the building blocks produced from A. nodosum and S. latissima. No effect of the building blocks was seen on umami flavour or flavour richness of the chicken broth. According to the high content of glutamate and aspartic acid of the building blocks it was concluded that the seaweed ingredients have some potential for salt reduction and flavour enhancement and should be tested further in food products.
The produced building blocks (based on A. nodosum and S. latissima) were analysed to their mineral content, amino acid profile and their total polyphenol content. Additionally the antioxidative capacity as well as possible α-amylase and α-glucosidase inhibition of the resulting building blocks, which are indicators for an anti-diabetic potential of the products were evaluated. These tests were performed to explore other potential usage of the seaweed building blocks. The building block made from A. nodosum showed a higher antioxidant potential in all tested assays. S. latissima showed no α-amylase and α-glucosidase inhibition capacity but A. nodosum building block showed good anti-diabetic potential. Based on the chemical results and results of the bioactivity analysis a product data sheet was designed and provided to the consortium.
It can be concluded that due to the high viscosity of the products a reduction of off-notes in larger scales is rather challenging and time intense. Thus, overall production costs of seaweed building blocks are rather high.

Work package 5 – Pilot scale production of seaweed flavour ingredients and evaluation of their performance in foods
The objectives in WP5 were (i) test the building blocks from pilot scale trial in WP4 by using them in the flavour ingredients and in the food products, (ii)to produce ingredients in pilot scale for customers and (iii) to evaluate the market potential of the flavour ingredients.
Summary of progress:
Seaweed building produced on a pilot scale level (WP4) were evaluated in sausages, soups, in water solutions of selected seasoning and in bread. The products were evaluated by sensory assessment, chemical analysis and texture analysis.
Significant results:
The seaweed building blocks were easy to handle in processing especially in lower concentrations. By reducing NaCl in sausages by 25% or more and adding sodium containing seaweed building blocks, 25 % sodium reduction was reached. No seaweed flavour or chemical flavour was detected in sausages containing seaweed building blocks indicating a good masking effect of the sausages. However, the results did not show any salt enhancing effect of the building blocks in sausages. Increasing concentration of building blocks resulted in softer and less cohesive texture of the sausages with changed odour and flavour profile, less characteristic sausage odour and sausage flavour, and more spice odour and spice flavour.
Evaluation in water solutions of selected seasoning did not show any salt reducing effects mainly due to strong off-notes of the two seaweeds extracts. Marine like off-flavour strongly influenced the perception of the broth products. Bread containing seaweed building blocks had some off notes compared to standard bread. Addition of seaweed building blocks had negative effect on colour of the breads.
The main conclusion was that in spite of the great improvements carried out during the course of the project, the final obtained building blocks present a high marine impact. Due to these limitations the seaweed flavour ingredients were not presented to potential customers.



Potential Impact:
The overall aim of the TASTE project was to increase the technological know-how of the SME participants and thus strengthen their innovation capacity in the area of sodium reduction. The focus was on developing innovative processing solutions, new healthy flavour ingredients and novel approaches to meeting salt reduction targets. Despite the conclusion that seaweed flavour ingredients developed within the project did not show sufficient salt replacement potential and flavour enhancing properties for commercial exploitation at present, the project had a number of positive impacts on the innovation capacity of the SME partners and has provided a solid basis from which to continue the research. The results of the TASTE project have provided the SME participants with new expertise in the following areas:

• Knowledge of seaweed as a food ingredient and resource for the production of innovative flavour ingredients: including knowledge of the potential to use different seaweed species; knowledge on quality assessment of seaweeds for flavour production; ability to characterise the flavours of seaweed and seaweed ingredients through the development and use of a dedicated seaweed flavour language; ability to identify key flavour compounds from seaweeds with potential flavour enhancing properties; new market intelligence for knowledge.
• New salt replacement strategies in specific food applications for existing and potential clients.
• New evaluation tools i.e. flavour language for use with seaweed.
• Development of processing methodology for the production of seaweed derived flavour ingredients: including the knowledge on the use of enzymatic processes using thermophilic and/or cold active enzymes; knowledge on the use of physical processing methods; knowledge of optimisation procedures.
• New applications for existing enzymes (seaweed targeted application)
• Production of seaweed ingredients; including ability to produce ingredients at a laboratory scale for future in house screening and trials; knowledge of validation procedures at pilot and commercial scale; economic evaluation of seaweed flavour ingredients at pilot and commercial scale; ability to produce large scale quantities of flavour ingredients.
• Application of seaweed flavour ingredients in relevant food products: including development of new applications and improved formulations; knowledge on the interactions of the different seaweed flavour ingredients in food products with respect to texture and aroma.
• New knowledge, processes and market intelligence for the general development of seaweed ingredients and products for potential use in non-flavour markets such as: dietary & nutritional food ingredients; horticulture; animal, pet and aquatic feeds; and industrial applications.
• Entry in lucrative new markets (research, diagnostic and industrial enzymes).
• Exposure to wider research and industry networks, introductions to different market sectors within the food, flavours and seaweed industries.
• Attract more research funding as a consequence of the new knowledge and expertise acquired through TASTE
SMEs are generally only able to adapt conventional techniques for the development of new products due to financial constraints and lack of expertise. The SMEs in the TASTE project worked closely with the RTDs and this new knowledge was transferred to the SMEs, thereby increasing their technological know-how and innovation capacity. In the food industry, new technologies are mainly developed and exploited by the large companies. Participation in the TASTE project allowed the SMEs to overcome these constraints by outsourcing research activities that are core to the future development of their businesses. Access to a research capability above and beyond that found within the SME organisations themselves will strengthen the internal research capability and provide a huge boost in the confidence and competitiveness of the SMEs involved.

Market Studies
Two comprehensive Market Intelligence Studies were produced as part of a wider objective to help the SME partners to generate value:
1. Information Review and Market Study: specific focus on seaweed ingredients and salt replacement ingredients and solutions.
2. Information Review and Market Study: potential non-flavour applications for the TASTE process and seaweed products.
The information contained in both reports constitutes valuable knowledge and IP that the SME participants can utilise to generate value after the TASTE project has ended.

Information Review and Market Study: specific focus on seaweed ingredients and salt replacement ingredients and solutions.
The report is divided into the following sections:
• General overview of the use of seaweed in food ingredients with special reference to the TASTE seaweeds –Ascophyllum nodosum and Saccharina latissima.
• Review of relevant patent, technical and academic literature that summarises the current and potential uses of Ascophyllum nodosum and Saccharina latissima in food.
• Overview of relevant products and markets for: salt reduced foods and salt replacement ingredients and solutions.
The information relating to Salt reduced foods in key markets was compiled by the individual SME participants as relevant to their own business, markets and sectors for potential growth.
The information relating to Salt replacers and salt-replacement solutions was compiled by Fraunhofer IVV as part of the research carried out on bench marking against commercial comparators.
All other information was compiled by CyberColloids.
Information Review and Market Study: potential non-flavour applications for the TASTE process and seaweed products
This report is divided into the following sections that cover potential exploitation opportunities in key sectors:
• Human health & wellness products: ingredients for nutritional enrichment; supplements; bioactives; cosmetics.
• Agriculture, horticulture and feed: extraction methods and ingredients for use in pet food, animal and fish feeds and horticultural concentrates.
• Other interesting markets.
For each sector, there is a general overview of the use of seaweed in non-flavour ingredients with special reference to the TASTE seaweeds – Ascophyllum nodosum and Saccharina latissima, including:
• Review of relevant patent, technical and academic literature that summarises current and potential uses of Ascophyllum and Saccharina.
• Overview of relevant products and markets.
All information contained in this report was compiled by CyberColloids.

The TASTE consortium represents a small European-wide network that spans different enterprises along the entire value chain from the raw ingredient to the finished product which should facilitate the extension of research and market networks (food and seaweed sectors) well beyond the consortium. The project offered an opportunity to develop and diversify the European seaweed industry that is currently operating well below its potential. The development of new strategies and technologies for salt reduction is a key driver across all sectors of the European (and global) food industry.


Main Dissemination Activities
A number of dissemination activities took place during the project period where the project objectives and results were presented.

Logo
Logo was designed for the project and used in all dissemination presentation, within or outside the consortium.

Website
Matís developed with contribution from all partners a project website with both public and member’s area. The public area contained information about the project and the consortium. News related to the project’s topic were uploaded regularly to the general public. The member’s only area was for the dissemination of project information, including progress, minutes of meetings, deliverables and other related information. The website will be kept visible for at least one more year.

Video:
A TASTE project video clip was put together using information provided by all partners. The video is available on the project website (http://tasteproject.net/taste-video/).

Publications:
No peer reviewed scientific publications were produced during the project but 4 publications are in preparation. Nine scientific theses, dissertations or reports were produced by students who undertook research at Matis and Fraunhofer. In total 16 dissemination activities took place during the course of the project and 7 dissemination events are planned after the project ends.
Training and transfer of know-how:
Training to enhance innovation capability of SMEs: A training event was held at Fraunhofer IVV, Freising, Germany in May 2014 with the aim to demonstrate the TASTE process – step by step- in a pilot scale/small commercial scale environment. Staff at Fraunhofer IVV carried out a full run of the process using Ascophyllum nodosum with the TASTE participants called in to observe at various stages.
• Information Review and Market Study: specific focus on seaweed ingredients and salt replacement ingredients and solutions.
• Information Review and Market Study: potential non-flavour applications for the TASTE process and seaweed products.
• Potential commercial opportunities for the non-flavour application of the TASTE process and seaweed products.
• Industry workshop: TASTE - The Application of Edible Seaweed for Taste Enhancement and Salt Replacement. The workshop was organised and hosted by Matis as part of the final project meeting. The workshop was open to and attended by local industry and representatives from research and public health authorities. The workshop provided an industry focussed forum for the general discussion of seaweed, its uses and potential for future industry growth in Iceland and elsewhere. All TASTE SME participants were involved with presentations from CyberColloids and Aleor. The presentations from this workshop are available on the project website, http://tasteproject.net/workshop/.

Exploitation activities and results:
Project results:
During the project substantial knowledge about the characterisation of seaweeds, different physical and enzymatic methods, and food formulations was gathered. This knowledge is summarised in the following project results:

• Definition of targets and benchmarks for seaweed ingredients
• Processing method to unlock flavour components, both physical methods and enzyme hydrolysis
• Application descriptions for commercial applications in meat products
• Application descriptions for commercial applications in soups and sauce products
• Application descriptions for commercial applications in bakery product


Future Exploitation
The exploitable outputs of the TASTE project can be categorised as either (i) commercially exploitable R&D results or (ii) general advancement of knowledge. A strategy for the management of these outputs, including access rights to IP and conditions for dissemination has been agreed by all participants. The basis for this was outlined at the start of the project in both the Grant Agreement (GA) and Consortium Agreement (CA). Before the TASTE project ended, the TASTE SME participants, jointly referred to as the SME Group outlined a Joint Agreement strategy for the future management and exploitation of the project IP.
i) Commercially exploitable R&D results
• No Foreground has been generated during the course of the project that is viable for commercial exploitation by the SME group in the immediate or short term.
• However, scientific advances that occurred very late in the project are recognised by the SME group to show some commercial potential.
• The SME group remains positive to the potential use of seaweed ingredients for salt reduction and flavour enhancement and have agreed that further research and development is required to advance the work that has been carried out under the TASTE project.
• The SME group has agreed to the possibility of further collaborative work and to securing a means to fund continued research.
• The SME group has laid down the following short term plan:
• SME participant Calaf will carry out further in house trials on samples that will be provided by Matis and Prokazyme after the project ends.
• SME participant CyberColloids will identify potential funding opportunities for continuing the research.
• Subject to feasibility of the above, the SME group will make a decision on whether and how to proceed by end 2014.
ii) General advancement of knowledge
• The SME participants will individually continue to utilise and build upon the knowledge gained during the TASTE project in house.
• A number of non-flavour applications have been identified as worthy of investigation for the potential exploitation of the TASTE process and seaweed derived products.
• SME participant CyberColloids has been making preliminary enquiries regarding potential other uses and will send TASTE samples out for evaluation on behalf of the SME group after the project has ended.
• CyberColloids has identified a number of companies, based in Ireland, UK and mainland Europe that would be willing to screen samples of the TASTE ingredients for their own specific requirements.
• Potential sectors are:
• dietary supplements and bioactives
• cosmetics and personal care products
• pet nutrition
• In addition, Matis have conducted screening studies to assess potential bioactive properties of the TASTE ingredients (not scheduled in the work programme), specifically for anti-oxidant potential and benefits to skin health.
• The results of these studies will provide important additional information regarding any potential use in cosmetics and personal care products.
• Whilst short term exploitation of the project Foreground seems unlikely, there are other benefits to the SME group associated with participating in the TASTE project that have enhanced any future exploitation opportunities. The SME group is representative of the wider European seaweed, food and flavours industries which has opened up networking opportunities, access to new raw materials and markets. The involvement with Matis and Fraunhofer IVV, likewise has opened up new networks and access to advanced research facilities that have been, until now, beyond the capability of the individual SMEs.



List of Websites:
The project website is: www.tasteproject.net

Main contact information:
Scientific coordinator: Rósa Jónsdóttir, Matis ohf, Vinlandsleid 12, Reykjavik, 113, Iceland. rosa.jonsdottir@matis.is
Exploitation manager: Dr. Sarah Hotchkiss, CyberColloids Limited, Strandhaven, Carrigaline, Cork, Ireland. sarah@cybercolloids.net
Dr. Jakob Kristjánsson, Prokazyme ehf. Vinlandsleid 14, Reykjavik, 113, Iceland. jakob@arkea.is
Dr. Max v. Scheid Ag & Co Kg Geschmack und Technologie fur die Lebensmittelherstellung, Clasenweg 6-9, P.O.Box 1150, 66799 Überherrn, Germany, SME Participant. m.v.fragstein@scheid-gewuerze.de
Gilles Allainmat, Aleor SAS, 3bis rue du Moulin à Mer, 2270 Lézardrieux, France. gilles.allainmat@aleor.eu
Dr. –Ing. Reiner Daiminger, Frutarom-ETOL, Tovarna arom in etericnih d.o.o. Škofja vas 39SI-3211 Škofja vas, Slovenia. rdaiminger@si.frutarom.com
Dominic Wimmer, Fraunhofer Institute for Process engineering and Packaging IVV
Giggenhauser Strasse 35, 85354 Freising, Germany.
Dr. Manel Alcaide, Calaf Nuances S.L. Isaac Newton 4B, Pol. Ind. Les Garrigues, 08280 Calaf, Spain. m.alcaide@calafnuances.com>