Hot Right Now: World-first plant-based salt, plant-based burgers in the Middle East, Pakistan adulteration and more of our trending stories on social media

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World-first plant-based salt, plant-based burgers in the Middle East, Pakistan adulteration and more of our trending stories on social media feature in this edition of Hot Right Now. ©Phyto Corporation
World-first plant-based salt, plant-based burgers in the Middle East, Pakistan adulteration and more of our trending stories on social media feature in this edition of Hot Right Now. ©Phyto Corporation

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World-first plant-based salt, plant-based burgers in the Middle East, Pakistan adulteration and more of our trending stories on social media feature in this edition of Hot Right Now.

World-first plant-based salt: South Korean firm utilises sea-based crop to develop product range

South Korean food technology company Phyto Corporation has developed a range of unique products all based on its research into a single plant, the seawater-grown crop Salicornia​.

Salicornia belongs to a family of salt-accumulating plants called halophytes, which means that it is by nature high in salt content. It grows on saline land near seasides ‘anywhere in the world’​, but has not been used as a food resource before this as it was generally found to be ‘too salty to eat’​ previously.

“Salicornia is the only edible halophyte anywhere - this must not be confused with seaweed, which grows inside the sea itself and does not accumulate salt,”​ Phyto Corporation Founder and CEO Duke Kim told FoodNavigator-Asia.

Disrupting the meat industry: Global Food Industries ready to launch plant-based burgers

UAE food firm Global Food Industries (GFI) has announced plans to launch its plant-based ‘not-chicken and not-beef burgers’ ​in November.

The products will be launched under its Healthy Farm brand and will first be available in the horeca or food service industry, which include hotels, restaurants, fast food, and casual dining.

Supermarket retail will begin in 2020. The burgers contain pea-protein, quinoa and kale, making it 30% higher in protein and 90% higher in fibre than traditional meat burgers.

FoodNavigator-Asia​ understands from Jacek Plewa, the company’s general manager that there are currently no local non-chicken meat alternative burger in the market.

International companies that have a presence in Middle East currently only sell non-beef alternatives. We believe we are the first and only to offer plant-based non-chicken alternatives in this region​,” he said.

Health hazards: Food adulteration in Pakistan escalates into gunfire as tainted products detected by the tonne

Pakistan’s Punjab Food Authority (PFA) has detected and discarded thousands of kilogrammes of adulterated food and beverage items​ over the past month, with over 100 brands deemed to be ‘unsafe’, amidst its efforts to intensify inspections in the province.

In its most recent raid on October 6 alone, the agency discarded some 28,700 kg worth of food items, all of which failed standard laboratory tests, according to the PFA’s Facebook page.

“The PFA has confiscated and destroyed 17,300kg of spices from brands that failed the lab tests, along with 11,400kg worth of sauces that were found to be adulterated,”​ said PFA Director General Captain Muhammad Usman.

Adulterated oil has also been a major subject of focus in the past month: 103 ghee and cooking oil brands were declared ‘unfit for human health’​ by the PFA, with some 68,000kg of these being removed from the market and discarded.

WATCH: Understand your DRNK: New Asia-targeted alcohol application uses AR to help brands bring information to life

A new application targeted at providing a platform to convey alcoholic drink information and analytics for users will be powered by Augmented Reality (AR)​, bringing the content to life via a unique animated presentation format.

“On the B2B end, brands, producers, distributors, merchants and the like will be able to utilise this platform to provide more information about their products and curate content accordingly, and provide something really different for all users,”​Lukasz Piotrowski, CEO and Founder of Omniaz, the developer behind the DRNK app, told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

“We saw that many alcohol brands were already utilising AR to run their campaigns, but so far [there is no application on the market] like DRNK that has the whole product spectrum like ours, which is today 500,000 product labels in our database.”

DRNK was officially launched in October this year in Singapore, and will be followed by Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia before moving further north in Asia to countries such as Korea, Japan and China.

‘War for Pure’: India prosecutes 31 for adulteration after just 54% of samples found to be safe

The Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has prosecuted 31 food and beverage manufacturers for adulteration under the National Security Act (NSA)​, following test results that revealed just 54% of all food samples tested so far to be safe for consumption.

According to official documentation from the Madhya Pradesh Department of Public Relations, this was part of an ongoing ‘ War for Pure’ campaign to battle adulteration in the state.

“Action has been taken against 31 traders [under] the National Security Act so far in the war campaign [being] run against adulterated food manufacturers and sellers,”​ stated Mukesh Modi from the department, who published the statement.

“[This campaign has been ongoing] since July 19 in Madhya Pradesh, and under the campaign a total of 6,463 samples including milk, milk products, other food items and pan masala have been collected so far.”

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