Promoting the benefits for consumers and industry

Seaweed Health Foundation / Standards Standards

The world's first seaweed food Standard

In 2014 the Foundation signed a memorandum of understanding with the Biodynamic Association to develop, together with seaweed producers and other organisations, a non-governmental, international production standard with two distinctive aims - to make transparent to the consumer the quality of the seaweed he or she is eating, and to cut bureacracy and deliver added value to the seaweed producer.

The result is the Nutritious Food Seaweed quality assurance scheme and standard, rooted in the principles of biodynamic, organic and sustainable farming, with aspects of marine science, botany, nutrition, and conservation.

Certification informs consumers of the nutritional value and safety of the product for human consumption, and enables producers to access new and broader markets at home and abroad.

In 2016 the Nutritious Food Seaweed symbol was introduced by the Biodynamic Association at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, for use on product packaging, incorporating a registered European trade mark with international registrations pending.

The NFS symbol will bolster public confidence and greatly assist the growth of markets among manufacturing industries using seaweed ingredients in a wide range of finished products.



Certification to the NFS Quality Assurance Scheme and Standard incorporates all the relevant international standards relating to food safety, organic aquaculture, and environmental sustainability.

Applicant members of the scheme are invited to register their interest with the Foundation's NFS Team and examine the Standard and related documentation in the Resources section of this website.

In Resources, select Filter by Category 'NFS Standard' and Filter by Type 'Any'.



“If we are to transform our food systems so that the maximum amount of people can eat nutritious food produced in the right ways, we need to work together, share ideas, pool resources and connect as part of a global food movement. Every voice counts” - Patrick Holden, Patron of the Biodynamic Association, Founder, Sustainable Food Trust, and previously Director of the Soil Association, 2016.

“We recognise the necessity of access to affordable health care, education, clean drinking water, sanitation and housing for all citizens and emphasise the importance of promoting health and well-being in combating communicable and non-communicable diseases. We recognise the right of everyone to have access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food, consistent with the progressive realisation of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security” - Charter of the British Commonwealth signed by HM Queen Elizabeth, Head of the Commonwealth, 2013.

“…the recession linked response of the multiple retailers has been to pile it high, sell it cheap and compromise on the production. If you knew the real story behind the food you wouldn’t want to buy it. Sadly that includes organic produce which, although there are of course exceptions, is in the main now often supplied by conventional packers who are often part of multinational trading groups buying from industrial scale farms from all over the world” - Patrick Holden in Business and Food, Food Ethics (blog), 30th April 2002.

"Secretary of State, Ladies and Gentlemen, I can’t tell you how encouraging it is that since the last time I attended the first of these Awards at St. James’s Palace ten years ago there has been a truly remarkable resurgence of what I can only call Britain’s ‘food culture’, with real excellence achieved by many producers in all parts of the country.

All of you, ladies and gentlemen (real heroes and heroines as far as I am concerned) are creating food that has a story to tell; a story with a golden thread that directly connects the miracle of Nature’s richness with our own need for sustenance.

These stories are all different – that is an important part of their appeal – but they often talk about a sense of place, about rare and native breeds of animal, or of fruit and vegetables; about timeless production methods and about unique presentation. But, above all, the essence of these stories is that at the end of the day they are actually about agri-culture, not about agri-industry.

We are told, of course, that agri-industry is the only way that we are going to be able to feed our burgeoning population and that there are no health benefits to natural, organic, farming systems. But perhaps we need to ask ourselves a few searching questions before accepting such a proposition.

For instance, if organically, or sustainably, produced food has no health benefits, then why are the water companies in this country spending something like £100 million pounds a year removing the pesticides and other chemicals from our water supply?

If our approach to industrially produced food (of which, incidentally, we waste some £10 billion worth in this country) is so sensible, then why are we seeing a dramatic increase in Type-2 Diabetes across the developed world?

If an industrialized approach to animal husbandry – which increasingly treats animals as machines in an ever more “efficient” system – carries no risk, then why are we seeing e-coli outbreaks in the United States from cattle raised on feedlots, fed on corn (when their stomachs were designed to cope with grass and leaves) and processed in ever-decreasing numbers of abattoirs as big as car factories?

If every technological innovation to increase the productive capacity of industrialized animals far beyond what Nature intended is considered safe, then why did the European Union decide to ban antibiotics as growth promoters in animal feed after they had been in use for fifty years?

And if, Ladies and Gentlemen, all the evidence shows that when children or, indeed, prisoners are fed proper, nutritious food, their behaviour and concentration both improve, why do we then ignore it or dismiss it as irrelevant?

The truth is that by treating food as an easy commodity, rather than a precious gift from Nature, we have started playing games with our health and with the environment, from which humanity can only stand to lose.

I do understand why the lure of industrially-produced food is so attractive to some people, all of whom I am convinced have the best of intentions. But I think it is very important that society recognizes the true cost, not just in environmental terms, but also in terms of its impact on our own health. If we lose the essential balance and disrupt the virtuous circle, then we risk incurring long-term and unmanageable costs.

These Awards, and The Food Programme itself, play a crucial role in making the case for sustainable farming and the production of real food. They help us understand the vitally important interactions between our food, our wellbeing and our society.

Finally Ladies and Gentlemen, if celebrating smaller scale, local and sustainable food production is considered to be an elitist position to take, then all I can say is that if we lose the knowledge, skills and traditions of our food culture, and we fail to give back to the soil and to Nature what we take from them, we will lose the wherewithal to look after ourselves and our planet" - HRH The Prince of Wales (2009), in a speech at the BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Awards, London:

“Francis Edmunds considered it essential that Emerson College acquired sufficient land for both the college campus and for agriculture. Agricultural land was needed as a base for the agricultural course, for all students to have the important direct experience of working with nature and the growing plant, and to produce healthy food for the college. He saw that students could not develop sufficiently the necessary inner powers of imagination and discrimination on the sort of food generally available at that time (1960) of widespread materialism in the attitude to food production. Science had produced artificial flavourings, colourings, preservatives, fertilzers, insecticides, herbicides, and other such aids to the production, marketing, storage, and enjoyment of foods. The use of such chemicals was little questioned; they were seen as scientific advances. People who did question them were considered social oddities like the hippies. There was also little consciousness of a need to care for the environment. In his attitude to land and food production, Francis, as in other things, was well ahead of his time. He saw that the college would itself have to grow vegetables in order to provide at least some healthy nutritious food for the students if they were to work on the inner path of development which formed the foundation of the work of the college” - Michael Spence, in The Story of Emerson College, Its Founding Impulse, Work and Form, Temple Lodge, 2013.


Seaweed producers in the British Isles and Nordic region can now apply for certification through the Seaweed Health Foundation.

NFS identifies a certified species throughout its chain of custody from ocean to end user, whether a bag of wet seaweed or a relatively minor ingredient in a finished consumer product.

Certification can be initiated at any point along the chain of custody, for example by a product brand owner, or the original seaweed producer.

To find out more, please click on this link to the Resources section of this website - then select the Filter by Category tab for 'NFS Standard'.

•  A short Presentation provides an introduction to the concept and process of Certification

•  The NFS Identity Guidelines show why and how to use the NFS symbol to identify the quality of your NFS certified seaweed or seaweed ingredient in your products.

To further examine the NFS Standard and Application documents, please first register with the Foundation.



Seaweed harvesting and processing for human food is developing in Europe and elsewhere using a variety of methods which produce widely differing qualities.

Good quality seaweed is being produced from traditional artisan production, larger scale mechanical harvesting and processing, and on- and off-shore cultivation introduced more recently.

At the same time, seaweed continues to enter the human food chain from entirely unregulated small-scale production, or dried and milled from industrial scale production for agriculture and alginate extraction which meets no food safety or nutritional standard.

End users and intermediaries have little knowledge of, and limited means to determine, the quality of these products.

Together with the Biodynamic Association, seaweed producers and others, the Seaweed Health Foundation works to ensure a level playing field for producers of nutritious food seaweed and certified quality for their customers.

It also holds numerous events to inform and educate the public and is an international research and media resource.

A recognised, voluntary standard will help sustain fair market value reflecting the true cost of certified production.

It assists seaweed producers with production methods and technologies, and helps develop an international market for certified seaweed producers and products.


Defining parameters for Nutritious Food Seaweed include:

  • Single living species of documented age and freshness
  • Documented physical and nutritional quality
  • Traceability from end use to documented sustainable source
  • Regulatory compliance for global markets
  • Standard Operating Procedures, independent analysis and accreditation
  • Environmental sustainability

The NFS Standard will remain subject to improvement, reflecting real time developments born of practical experience and innovation, new species and methods in production, and changing market realities.

It aims to provide protection and quality assurance to consumers, intermediaries and producers, whether the seaweed is collected and dried by hand, cultivated and farmed in the open sea or otherwise, or mechanically harvested and processed.

The Standard is fully compliant with the EU Organic Regulation EC 834/2007 along with the implementing Regulation EC 889/2008 and EC 710/2009, and corresponding regulations under the National Organic Program in the USA, and where required, concurrent certification can be provided by Biodynamic Association Certification, a DEFRA accredited Certification body.