SINGAPORE: A healthier version of mee rebus and chee cheong fun might soon become a reality, thanks to "diabetic-friendly" noodles being co-developed by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) and the Food Innovation Research Centre at Singapore Polytechnic.
At an engagement and tasting session for local noodle manufacturers on Monday (Sep 25), two new noodle prototypes with a lower glycemic index were introduced.
The first prototype, which was yellow noodles, was made with beta-glucan – an ingredient found in oats and barley and has been shown to be beneficial for the heart, cholesterol and blood glucose.
The second prototype was rice noodles made with a resistant starch, which has been found to slow down the release of sugar in blood and contribute to good gut health.
According to the Food Innovation Research Centre, these two ingredients were chosen because of their commercial availability and effectiveness in reducing the spike in one's blood glucose.
"This is part of our ongoing efforts to work with industry and researchers - our universities, our polytechnics - to come together to produce healthier food that tastes just as good as normal food products," said Senior Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat at the event.
According to HPB, more than 400,000 Singaporeans are diagnosed with diabetes, with one in three likely to get diabetes in their lifetime.
Mr Chee also added that the products would also have "potential for export" in the regional market in the future, with the Government helping manufacturers with market development at the "initial stage".
"Once the product has gained greater acceptance in the market - including overseas and locally - I think the scale of the production will bring the cost down," said Mr Chee.
The engagement session was attended by eight local manufacturers from Singapore’s noodle manufacturing industry.
One of them was Tan Seng Kee Foods, which sells noodle products under its Kang Kang brand.
"It’s our staple, so definitely it’s important to innovate and create something that’s healthier, that’s of value to our consumers," said its executive director Raymond Tan.
"Especially as times go by when the bread industry is already working on wholegrain bread, now people are also more aware about eating healthy. So we definitely feel that it’s timely for us to roll out healthier choice noodles," Mr Tan added.
According to a 2010 National Nutrition Survey, around 80 per cent of Singaporeans consume noodles at least three times a week.
While Mr Tan cited the price premium of healthier food products as a challenge, he said that Government efforts to raise public awareness and promote healthy eating have helped.
The noodle formulation will be shared with interested manufacturers who can choose to adapt it to their noodle recipes. The centre will also work with them to carry out testing and seek regulatory approval, before the manufacturers roll them out for sale.
Launched in 2007, the Food Innovation Research Centre is a joint initiative between Singapore Polytechnic and SPRING Singapore. It aims to provide food enterprises with technical expertise in the research and development of new products.