Express News Service
CHENNAI: If there were fortune cookies in beer bottles, they would, perhaps, foretell all the consequences of drinking — most of them to do with health and some about social behaviour. A Chennai-based youngster, however, is trying to rescript that story, by making beer a “health drink”.
U Vignesh, a postgraduate student and researcher at the biotechnology department in the University of Madras, has made a beer from seaweed, which, he claims, has anti-cancer, anti-genotoxic, and antiinflammatory properties.
“This beer is made from a seaweed found in abundance along the Tamil Nadu coast, and meets all key parameters laid out by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for commercial beer brands,” says the M.Sc student. Vignesh is planning to approach the authorities to apply for a patent. He has submitted a dissertation on the subject as part of his course in the university.
“India has about 844 species of seaweeds. Our investigation showed a specific brown seaweed found near Mandapam coast has high nutritional value compared to any other variety. An attempt was made to brew an alcoholic beverage and it became a success,” says Vignesh.
‘Seaweed has anti-cancer properties’
Despite seaweed being used in food and medicines, research on it is a neglected subject in India. Elumalai, a pioneer in seaweed/algae research, says, “This particular brown seaweed is used in salads in South Asian countries. We have scientific proof on its anti-cancer, anti-genotoxic nature, and it’s anti-inflammatory property is equal to standard drug diclofenac.
” Vignesh said, “We got tests done at private laboratories. Six combinations of additives were tried to improve the quality and taste and meet FSSAI standards. Finally, cane sugar and ginger was zeroed upon.
All the key parameters like methyl alcohol, total acidity, volatile acidity, copper/iron, residue on evaporation, total sulphur dioxide, sorbic acid and reducing sugar are meeting FSSAI norms applicable for standard commercial beer.” If all goes well, drinkers across the world may raise a toast to celebrate Vignesh’s success.