Canaryseed Approved for Human Consumption

OTTAWA - Mar 12/18 - SNS -- Hairless canaryseed has been approved for human consumption in Canada and the United States.

The designations of Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and novel food by Health Canada mean the product to be lawfully used in food products.

Dr. Elsayed Abdelaal, Associate Director and former research scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)'s Guelph Research and Development Centre (GRDC), worked in partnership with the Canaryseed Development Commission of Saskatchewan (CDCS), Dr. Pierre Hucl of the University of Saskatchewan (a cereal crops breeder and the developer of hairless canaryseed varieties) and Dr. Carol Ann Patterson of The Pathfinders Research & Management Ltd.

Until now, the seed's hairy shell limited its use to bird feed and caused human skin and eye irritation during harvest and processing. The hairless variety was developed as an alternative cereal grain for whole grain foods and a renewable source of starch, protein, and oil.

"Canary seed is a real Canadian crop and true cereal. Its unique starch, protein, and oil components hold great potential for food and industrial applications," said Dr. Elsayed Abdelaal, Research Scientist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

The seed's nutritional components – starch, protein, and oil – can be used in many food and industrial applications. Dr. Abdelaal notes that its uses could include:

* using the small starch granules as "filler" in cosmetics, or fat replacement in foods

* using the exceptionally high tryptophan protein as a supplement for other plant or animal protein sources, such as dairy products and

* using the oil as a healthy alternative to saturated fats. The high composition of polyunsaturated oil also contains high levels of antioxidants

Dr. Lamia L'Hocine, research scientist at AAFC's St. Hyacinthe Research and Development Centre will be further evaluating the properties of hairless canaryseed starch, protein and oil that distinguish it from other grains in collaboration with the CDCS and University of Saskatchewan.

For instance, the exceptional gelling abilities of the starch could be beneficial as a fat substitute in food products and other related applications.