A new supply chain and marketing initiative in France is promoting the benefits of eating foods derived from animals that have been fed a diet rich in flax seed.
The ?Bleu Blanc Coeur? logo certifies products that have been produced from cattle or poultry fed on a flax-rich diet under strict control and testing procedures.
The logo, which appears on dozens of products on French supermarket shelves, including the two largest chains Carrefour and Monoprix, suggests that eating these foods is ?good for your heart.?
The label is part of the Bleu Blanc Coeur research programme, which involved testing the health benefits of meat, dairy and bakery foods produced under this system.
Clinical trials carried out by the Centre d?Enseignment et de Recherche en Nutrition (CERN) (Nutritional Education and Research Centre) in the region of Brittany, demonstrated that healthy volunteers, diabetics and those suffering from cardiovascular conditions (specifically, high cholesterol levels) all showed an improvement in their condition when following a diet high in flax-fed meat, dairy and poultry products and bread enriched with extruded flax. A control group, following their normal diet, showed no such improvements.
?If you can get French consumers to consider the health effects of their diet, that?s a real achievement,? said Dr Bernard Schmitt, nutritional director of the research programme.
?Everyone knows that the French are very discerning about the flavour and texture of what they eat, and these have usually been more important factors than whether their food was good for their health. And of course, because this is France, those products still have to taste good.?
More than 100 organisations, grouped into seven categories, or ?coll?ges,? come under the Bleu Blanc Coeur banner encompassing every stage of production, from growing and producing animal feeds to producing and marketing food products.
Flax was chosen as a suitable ingredient for the animal feed because it was a traditional crop in Brittany, grown for making sails.
Boiled flax was traditionally used to feed cattle and local farmers used to claim that flax would restore cattle to good health.
Working on this traditional theory, the cattle-feed company Valorex developed a new way of incorporating flax using a new process for extruding the seed (similar to the technique used to turn maize into cornflakes), making it highly suitable as an additive to cattle feed.
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