MYSORE: The Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL) has created seaweed toffees, energy bars, and ready-to-eat meals for the Indian Navy.
The products are said to be a result of path-breaking research in a hitherto unexplored field. The foods have reached the demonstration and induction stage, scientists told Express during a lab visit.
Dr H V Batra, Director, DFRL, said nutraceutical products made out of marine sources, such as seaweeds, could address depression, fatigue, sea-sickness and muscular stiffness, often found among submariners and sailors undertaking long missions.
“Our main emphasis is to extract active compounds from marine sources and we are planning to attach an advanced team to an oceanographic unit. We have to provide MREs (meals ready-to-eat) with a longer shelf-life in a limited cold storage environment,” Dr Batra said.
He described the naval ration supply as a challenge. Initial trials of the ready-to-eat meals were held at naval bases in Kochi, Vishakhapatnam and Mumbai.
DFRL plans initially to supply toffees and energy bars made of seaweeds to the Indian Navy.
Its scientists are working on developing other varieties of fresh, semi-processed and fully-processed foods for the Navy.
“We have to customise our products. A submariner undergoes psychological and physiological stress for want of physical activity and space. For marine commandos, the weight of the meal has to be as low as possible,” Dr P S Raju, Associate Director of the lab, said. The lab will also comply with international packing and food waste disposal norms.
“We are also working on anti-sea sickness food based on fruits, vegetables, spices and herbs,” Dr S Nadanasabapathy, senior scientist, said. Use of seaweed as by soldiers is not new. Wounded Japanese soldiers were given seaweed juice when they ran out of blood, while British soldiers ate seaweed limes to address degenerative disorders, DFRL scientists said.
“We are confident our packaged seaweed meals will be the first in the world for a military application,” Dr S Nadanasabapathy said.