Sara Lee targets kids with low-dose DHA omega-3 bread

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Docosahexaenoic acid

Illinois-based food multinational, Sara Lee, has made its first leap into the functional bakery, omega-3 space with a DHA-fortified white bread aimed at children that has been backed by the Disney Corporation.

The bread that retails at the same pricing range ($2.39 to $3.49) as the rest of the Soft & Smooth range it has joined, is fortified with 12mg of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) supplied by global DHA market leader, Martek Biosciences Corporation.

It will be distributed nationally in grocery stores and coupons for it will be available on selected Disney websites.

A Sara Lee spokesperson told Sara Lee arrived at the level of 12mg per two-slice serving because at higher levels taste and texture issues came into play.

“We were not on the absolute limit at 12mg but that was a level we felt could significantly contribute to DHA intakes without taste and textures,” ​she said. “This product will appeal to mums as children begin to consume whole foods.”

Sara Lee Soft & Smooth Plus Made with DHA Omega-3 comes in two versions - '100% Whole Wheat' and 'Made with Whole Grain White'.

The world’s most successful omega-3 bread, ‘Tip Top Up Omega-3 DHA’, sells in Australia and similarly targets children’s brain health, but contains 32mg of fish-sourced DHA per two-slice serving. Martek’s DHA is vegetarian and algae-sourced.

The US Institute of Medicine recommends DHA intakes of 70mg for 1-3 year-olds; 90mg for 4-8 year-olds; and 120mg for 9-13 year-olds, meaning Sara Lee’s bread comes in at about 10 per cent of the suggested intake for pre-teens and more for younger children.

It is estimated the average American child consumes between 30 and 40mg of DHA per day.

A website​ set up to back the product, in conjunction with a Facebook page, states: “Based on a growing body of scientific evidence, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) Omega-3 helps to support healthy brain development.”

Sara Lee said the statement had been cleared with the Food and Drug Administration.

DHA and bread

Martek has supplied ingredients to other bread makers but none on the same scale intended by Sara Lee. These include a west coast US brand called Oroweat, Dempster’s in Canada as well as tortilla called Mission.

“This is an exciting launch because Sara Lee is a leader in the bread category and a fantastic partner,”​ Martek spokesperson, Cassie Frances-Kelly said.

“Formulation challenges always exist when using fatty acids – for example, shelf life and stability but we have been quite successful in overcoming them in nearly every major product category,”​ she said.

Of the dosage level, Frances-Kelly observed: “The idea is to introduce life’sDHA to family diets in a variety of ways – breads, yogurts, juices, milks – so that at the end of the day the consumer is able to conveniently add DHA to their diet in a way that really adds up and provides brain, eye and heart benefits.”

In a statement, Tim Zimmer, vice president of Sara Lee North American Fresh Bakery said: “We understand the need to ensure proper nutrition through all stages of life especially in younger children. Bread with DHA Omega-3 is an excellent and simple way to provide moms with a great-tasting, nutritious option their little ones will love.”

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