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Algae for naturally iodized salt (anis)/feasibility of using seaweeds to combat the iodine deficiency in Europe


The objective of the ANIS project is to design innovative natural ingredients suitable for salt iodization, in view of combating iodine deficiency (ID) in European countries and, perhaps in tropical countries in a longer term. The originality of this project is to use natural ingredients with high level of iodine : seaweeds. A second objective of our project is to demonstrate the bioavailability of the iodine containing in seaweeds.
The methods for determination of iodine in biological fluid have been implemented with success after validation by each partner like the method for iodine determination in seaweed meals and seaweed iodized salts. The optimisation of the conditions of this last was performed and validated. Concurrently, we have optimised and implemented the method for food safety assessment.
Our works permit us in a first time to select the two seaweeds for the feasability, consumer acceptance and bioavailability studies, regarding their level in iodine, heavy metals, and hazardous compounds like pesticides for example and disponibility (quality of suppliers). In the second time, we have confirmed our firsts data on this seaweeds, by collect and analyse of raw and commercial samples form European Countries. Regarding the results of our firsts investigations resulting of the mapping of raw and commercials seaweeds in different European countries, in accordance with the first results of the characterisation works of seaweeds, we decided to orient the design of the seaweeds ingredient from a red algae, Gracilaria verrucosa, and from a brown algae, Laminaria hyperborea. Laminaria hyperborea presents the particularity to have a high level in iodine without risk to present a heavy metals level disagreeing with the regulation. Iodine is present essentially as inorganic iodine. Gracilaria verrucosa contains essentially organic iodine. The level of iodine in this seaweed may be high, depending of the place of collect. The level of iodine in the " Sillon du Talbert ", Brittany coast place is like Laminaria hyperborea: between 4000 to 5000 ppm.
About the regulation aspects, our investigations have showed that two European countries only, France and Belgium, have a specific text on the uses of seaweed in food. But they have not directives for seaweeds as food ingredient. But for our project, we have the agreement of the national regulation office that it is possible to have a exemption, with a specific file to subject, particularly on the three tests markets identified: France, Belgium and Germany.
During our work of feasibility studies, we have defined the design of seaweed ingredient with the selected seaweeds, in accordance with our objective and the constraints for the mix saeweed/salt. One of the major problem to solve was the segregation between seaweed meal and salt during the blending process and in the final packaging. From a regulation point, it is necessary to garrente a constant level of iodine in the mix seaweed/salt. This problem is actually solved by a development of a new original blending process and a patent is actually in examination. Concurrently, our stability studies demonstrated that the seaweed meals are very stable. The seaweed iodised salt present a good stability for iodine, similarly to the classical iodized salts (iodide or iodate) in European storage conditions after 180 days (temperature and humidity cycles), independly of the kind of package. But the same test in tropical condition (high humidity level) show that we have a loss of iodine (seaweed of chemical form) in no watertight bag, like cardboxes without spout or paper-bags. These results are interesting because they show that iodine from seaweed has a similarly stability than chemical iodine, and that the unstability of iodine in iodized salts, we can find in some publications, may find one explanation in lixiviation phenomenons.
The consumer acceptances studies demonstrated a good acceptance of the seaweed iodised salts by the consumers, with a preference for iodized salts with Gracilaria verrucosa.
The last important results was the bioavalability of iodine from seaweed. The two clinical studies performed in Bruxelles and Marseille show without possible discussion that the iodine from seaweed is bioavailable.


Our project objectives are expected and we have now all the information for market a product and develop new kind of application with the seaweeds to combat the iodine deficiency in the European community and in the world. All partners continue now to work on the new objective: to market the product in the next 2 years. Actually, one marketing group is working on this topic.
We have actually in project more than 10 communications and we are studying the possibility of an international meeting based on the results of this research program, at the start of 1999.
This objective is in keeping with the general pattern of the policy of international bodies for health and/or control of iodine deficiency.
The main steps of the project were :
1. Research for improvement and intercalibration of methods for bioavailability studies and iodine analysis (urine, seaweeds, salt) ;
2. Evaluation of the suitability of different European seaweeds as iodine sources (iodine content and stability, food regulation status, cost) ;
3. Food safety evaluation of selected seaweeds ;
4. Feasibility of designing seaweed ingredients complying with food safety and technological specifications (hydration, density ...) ;
5. Study of seaweed iodine stability within salt products. The hypothesis of the seaweed iodine being more stable than iodide during storage will be investigated ;
6. Study of consumer response to the product (salt iodized with seaweed based ingredients);
7. Evaluation of the iodine bioavailability, involving clinical studies in human volunteers ;
8 Designing an information strategy through official channels.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts


Presqu'île De Pan Lan L'armor-pleublan
22610 Pleubian

Participants (3)

Solvay S.A.
1,1 Rue G. Peri
54110 Dombasle-sur-meurthe
Universite Libre de Bruxelles
322,322, Rue Haute
1000 Bruxelles
University of Portsmouth Higher Education Corporation
United Kingdom
King Henry I Street
PO1 2DZ Portsmouth