Waitrose Launches Omega 3 Enriched Chicken

14th June 2016

Waitrose has today announced that it will introduce the UK's first chicken that is a source of omega 3 - a groundbreaking move for a British supermarket.

This unique innovation has been brought to market by Waitrose in partnership with Devenish and its chicken supplier Moy Park. The project, which has taken a decade to bring to market, came about as a result of concerns within the medical community that consumers were not including enough sources of omega 3 in their diets; this is of particular concern in children, who often do not like oily fish. To help improve intake, the idea was conceived of developing a more popular protein containing a source of omega 3.

The chicken is enriched by feeding the birds on a diet containing an algae - the family of aquatic plants that includes kelp and seaweed - naturally rich in omega 3. The taste and appearance of the chicken is the same as birds reared on a conventional diet.

Initial testing was carried out on 30 healthy participants whose omega 3 levels were measured after one, three and five weeks of eating three servings per week of omega 3 enriched chicken meat. On average participants saw their levels of omega 3s increase by 12 per cent.

Professor Patrick Wall, Professor of Public Health, University College Dublin, added, "This is actually going to revolutionise nutrition. The idea that you can make an everyday product healthier suggests you could have a huge impact on health."

Omegas 3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids which, as a key part of a balanced diet, help to maintain normal heart, brain and vision function.

Research undertaken in 2013 showed that people with the highest levels of omega 3 had a 40 per cent reduction in cardiovascular related deaths compared to people with the lowest levels. Optimum health benefits are obtained from a daily intake of 250mg of omega 3 fatty acids as part of a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle.

Despite leading authorities such as the British Heart Foundation recommending regular consumption of foods containing omega 3, research suggests that only 23% of the UK's adult population consumes the recommended intake, generally classified as at least one portion of oily fish per week. Intake levels are particularly low in children and young people.

Dr Heather Hayes, Director of Food Innovation at Devenish commented, "We are delighted that omega 3 enriched chicken is now on the shelves in Waitrose. This product has been developed through 10 years of research, and could make a real impact on the lives of people not consuming enough omega 3 in their diets."

This is the first in a range of products being developed by Devenish's Food Innovation sector to come to market. The aim of the sector is to develop enriched feeds that once consumed by animals, the benefits on to humans, improving their health and wellbeing.

The new omega 3 (OmegaPro) chicken, which is unique to Waitrose, is produced by Moy Park on family farms in Northern Ireland to Waitrose's bespoke high welfare standards, which include plenty of natural light and more space than the industry standards allowing the birds to display natural behaviour.

A total of 10 different new products, including whole chickens, breast fillets and thigh meat will go on sale from June 15th.

For more information on OmegaPro, click here.

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