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Sarasota Thursday, Jun. 17, 2010 9 years ago

Sarasota Small Business of the Year Awards: Ambo Foods

by: Loren Mayo Black Tie Editor

Their cookie packs the same omega-3 power as a filet of salmon — without the fishy aftertaste.

Drs. Bo Martinsen and Anne-Marie Chalmers, co-founders of Ambo Foods, were nominated as a finalist in the Technology and Innovation category for the new “Omega Cookie,” an alternative for people who prefer not to consume fish or fish-oil capsules. The gluten-free cookie, which they started developing three years ago, is packed with Omega Cure fish oil, calcium, fiber, vitamin D, fruit juices, oats and dried fruits or chocolate chips.

“When you use such a high dose of fish oil and try to put it into food, there are several things that can happen,” Martinsen said. “When you expose it to heat or air, you immediately have a fishy taste and smell.
When dealing with a high content of fish oil, it can start separating and is not easily mixed. You will have oxidation problems if you try to combine it with many other products. We solved this and managed to do it without changing oil and without using chemicals.”

People would need to consume 350 slices of omega bread just to get the equivalent of one Omega Cookie.
In their initial study, the doctors measured the omega 3 index, the amount of omega found in red blood cells, and found that the average amount was about 4%. After an eight-week period of cookie consumption, omega levels in the test consumers were up in the 8-to-10% levels — a 100% increase.

“By having the fish oil in the cookie, you get a better absorption,” Chalmers said. “The death from cardiovascular disease is decreasing about 90% when you get up in this range.”

Their next challenge is to inform people of what a difference the cookie can make.

“We all need to be eating as though we have diabetes,” Martinsen said. “Not only is it the perfect little meal, but it’s something that can really change your health. To change the health of millions can be as simple as eating a cookie a day. The cookie gives your body the nutrients it needs and it will start regulating itself.”

The doctors have tested the flavor of the cookie countless times using their employees, children and shoppers at the Downtown Sarasota Farmers Market as guinea pigs to get the perfect taste, texture and size.
“It’s really a Sarasota-born product and is high-tech, even though it looks like a food product,” Martinsen said. “Everybody’s gotten their two cents in at the farmers market. I think the recognition of being nominated for this award is that people have started understanding this isn’t just a cookie — it’s a nutritional breakthrough.”


Address: 727 Commerce Drive, Venice
Start date: 2008
Number of employees when started: Three
Number of employees now: 12
Advice: Believe in what you’re doing and do not give up.
Biggest challenge: Eliminating oxidation, separation and the fishy smell and taste in the Omega Cookie.
Where do you see your business in one year? We will be heavily engaged in clinical research and we will have more employees. In two years, we will have research backing up our claims, broader marketing going out to schools, military, employers, the Mayo clinic — it’s a perfect food or snack for the workplace.


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