Sea moss foods and beverages
What manufacturers need to know before they go to market with sea moss products.
Sea moss is growing in popularity as manufacturers scramble to get ahead of the curve to sell sea moss as a gel or as an ingredient in a food or beverage. Michigan State University (MSU) Extension’s Product Center has seen an increase over the last two years in companies coming to us for guidance on how to manufacture and sell these products legally.
But why sea moss? Cleveland Clinic’s article, “What Are the Benefits of Sea Moss?” reports that sea moss is:
- “Heart healthy” due to its higher fiber content that affects cholesterol and blood pressure
- A “good source of iodine” for a regulated thyroid
- Full of live bacteria to “support gut health”
- Rich in an amino acid called taurine that helps build muscle and aid in workout recovery
As a manufacturer of a sea moss product, it is critical to know the food safety needs and regulations to ensure consumers are protected and you are complying with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) regulations. Below are several points to pay attention to as you embark on this journey.
First, the source of your sea moss is important. Heavy metals can be a point of concern for sea moss based on where the sea moss was harvested. Ensure the company you purchase sea moss from can prove it is low in heavy metals through providing lab results or a water quality record by the local government where it was harvested.
Second, soaking the dried sea moss to produce the gel is another area of concern. Since dried sea moss is soaked in water for several hours, it is important to know if your inspector allows you to soak it at room temperature or if it must be done under refrigeration.
Food safety is critical based on the type of food product and how you are storing it. If you want to store your gel and other related food products at room temperature, additional testing will likely be needed to ensure they are produced in a safe manner. One such testing for shelf stable beverages and similar products is a Process Authority Review. If your product is going to be frozen or refrigerated, you’ll need to keep it that way during distribution and shipment. Be sure to check with your inspector on your testing requirements.
No health claims can be made on a product’s label or website. If health claims are important to you, these claims may mean that your product will be regulated as a supplement with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and it may end up in the pharmacy side of the store. See the FDA’s article on claims, “Label Claims for Conventional Foods and Dietary Supplements,” and connect with a local inspector to discuss.
Licensing is required for food and beverage products. Supplements will be regulated by the FDA. For further information, see the Sea Moss fact sheet by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. This is a great reference even for Michigan processors with a sea moss product. Again, ensure you talk with a local health department or MDARD inspector.
MSU Extension also provides services for seafood manufacturers through the Michigan Sea Grant program. You won’t want to miss their article that highlights the national funds available to seafood companies in Michigan.
The Michigan State University (MSU) Extension Product Center provides business counseling and helps entrepreneurs launch new food products. One specialized service provided is the development of Nutrition Facts labels. This is a fee-based service. Food businesses may contact the Product Center for assistance with labeling.