January 10, 2017 8:19 am
Updated: January 10, 2017 8:43 am

Canary seed safe to eat, but human food market developing slowly

WATCH ABOVE: After many years of testing and producer levies, canary seed received approval for human consumption in 2016 – for both Canada and the United States. But it’s strictly for the skinless or de-hulled variety. Ryan Kessler has more.


One year after being designated safe for humans to eat, progress has been slow when it comes to creating a human consumption market for canary seed.

In January 2016, the Canaryseed Development Commission of Saskatchewan (CDCS) announced the crop received “novel food” approval from Health Canada. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said canary seed is “generally recognized as safe.”

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READ MORE: Canary seed designated safe for humans to eat

“It’s high in protein. It has a nice unsaturated fatty acid profile and it’s gluten free,” said Kevin Hursh, executive director of the CDCS.

Dehulled canary seeds can be used to replace sesame seeds in many foods like burger buns or cookies. Seeds can also be ground into a flour and made into bread, cereals and pasta.

However, Saskatchewan lacks commercial dehulling equipment, which is needed to remove the outer skin or layer on the seeds for human consumption.

“When you sell canary seed for bird seed, you leave the hulls on. That’s the way the birds like it,” Hursh said.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan streamlining agricultural drainage approval process

Canpulse Foods’ plant in Zealandia, Sask., could be one of the first operators of a commercial dehuller if plans for an upgrade are realized before this fall, said managing partner David Nobbs.

“It’s a chicken and egg situation. We really need to have some supply before people can tell us whether they like it,” Nobbs said.

About 300,000 acres of canary seed are typically grown in Saskatchewan every year, making up more than 95 per cent of Canadian acreage and production.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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