Indonesia’s National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) has continued to push for the development of functional food made from local ingredients by utilising Indonesia’s biodiversity to strengthen national food security.
According to the Head of BRIN’s Agriculture and Food Research Organization, Puji Lestari, “The potential of functional food must be raised as an effort to solve food issues at the local, regional, national, and global levels.”
BRIN has continued to conduct research and development to produce various kinds of functional food using locally sourced ingredients, in supporting public health.
Functional food, according to Lestari, is processed food containing one or more food components with certain physiological functions beyond their basic functions, which are proven to be harmless but beneficial to health. These functions include the capability to prevent disease, increase body resistance, slow down the aging process, and rejuvenate health.
The pandemic as well as climate change has disrupted food demand and supply. This has the potential to push up food prices to higher levels until 2023. The Indonesian government is actively looking for new alternative food sources, both individually and collectively, to strengthen food and social stability in Indonesia which has a huge population of 275 million.
Lestari added that functional food must use ingredients that meet the quality standards and safety requirements, are beneficial to health, and are served and consumed like foods or drinks. As a food product, functional food must have characteristics and tastes that are acceptable to consumers.
BRIN researcher Ainia Herminiati said there is potential for local food ingredients to be used as functional foods, for instance, fruits which can be a source of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber to maintain the body”s immune system. In Indonesia, there are at least 400 types of native Indonesian fruit plants. These can be added in the supplementation, fortification, and enrichment of local food innovations.
Some examples of BRIN’s research-based functional food include prebiotic banana bars, banana flakes for toddlers, products from mocaf (modified cassava flour) such as dry noodles, pasta, instant porridge, instant pudding, biscuits and snacks that are fortified with vitamins and minerals. In the drink category, research has been done in aloe vera drinks (Aloegin), which serve as immunostimulants; groundcherry-based beverage products for diabetes mellitus prevention; and probiotic powder health drinks made from Amorphophallus muelleri.