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New way to naturally enrich cow's milk for improved nutrition

BTG : 02 December, 2001  (New Product)
BTG International announced today that it has signed a commercialisation agreement with the University of Guelph to market the rights to a novel technology for naturally enriching cow's milk with an omega-3 fatty acid known as docosahexaenoic acid or DHA. This nutrient is an essential part of a healthy diet for people of all ages but is particularly important during the early stages of a child's development.
DHA is the main polyunsaturated fatty acid in brain cells and is also found in abundance in the retina. As well as playing a significant role in the reduction of risk factors for cardiovascular disease, DHA is thought to have a potentially favourable effect on selected neurological disorders including depression and anxiety disorders. But most significantly, high levels of DHA are now believed to be required for optimal mental functioning and visual acuity. As a consequence, DHA is now regarded as an essential nutrient, particularly for infants and children on mixed diets (as recommended by the British Nutrition Foundation, 1992).

DHA occurs naturally in breast milk, and babies fed on breast milk have been shown to perform better than their formula-fed counterparts in both intelligence and visual acuity tests. Recognising this benefit has lead to the enrichment of certain infant formula products in Japan and Europe with DHA. (Similar infant formulas are expected to become available in North America.)

Cow's milk is currently devoid of DHA and, historically, the main source in the human diet has been fish, fish oils and, to a much lesser extent, eggs and certain meats. Introduction of DHA into cow's milk, however, will facilitate its incorporation into a wide range of dairy products such as ice cream, cheese, yoghurt and related processed foods. For the first time, this valuable nutrient will be accessible to growing children in foods that are popular with the majority of young consumers.

The new technology from the University of Guelph introduces DHA into cow's milk in a natural way, rather than as an additive. A special cattle feed has been developed containing a source of DHA together with ingredients, commonly found in a cow's diet, which allows for the production of milk and related dairy products which are enriched for DHA. The potential health benefits have implications for old and young alike.

Ian Cook, BTG's Senior Executive for Agribusiness Technologies, said: 'I am delighted that BTG is to be associated with this exciting new technology. There is already a powerful move in the infant formula market towards inclusion of DHA. Now, with the University of Guelph process, future licensees will have an opportunity to capitalise upon this market trend by making DHA available to all ages through naturally enriched milk and dairy products.'

Constance Hearty, Director of Business Development at the University of Guelph, said: 'We are very pleased that a company of BTG's stature has recognised the importance of our discovery. We believe that this process has the potential to benefit many consumers and BTG's cooperation will now help to make this possible.'
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