Industry insights from NIZO (P2): The latest innovation maintaining protein functionality

“In the previous column, we looked at the range of alternative protein options available and how to choose the right one for your new product. Having chosen the right protein source (or sources), the challenge turns to ensuring you can maintain the desired functionality of that protein during processing and deliver the associated benefits to your customers.

Maintaining protein functionality in processing

Why is protein functionality a key issue for process development?
Protein functionality can influence the taste and texture of a food product, affecting how attractive the product is to the consumers, and also impact production efficacy.

The interest in these effects is growing rapidly as the protein transition opens up new/alternative protein sources, many of which offer much greater protein functionality that meat does.

What is the impact of processing on protein functionality?
The goal of processing is to deliver a food product that is tasty, nutritious and safe. with heat treatments like pasteurization and UHT, temperatures above 80C reduce or even destroy the functionality of many proteins, therefore, there is a big drive towards milder processing that still delivers maximum food safety while leaving more of the protein functionality intact.

NIZO - Figure 1

So, can we just turn down the heat?
Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as that. First, there is plenty of room to optimize current processes. Second, good manufacturing processes are very complex, with multiple possible reactions between ingredients.

How do you start to optimize such a complex process?
Data analytics: collecting as much data as you can from your factory and analyzing it for any correlations.
Computer modelling of factory set up: require deep understanding of chemical reactions that can occur during food processing.

What other new technologies could help manufacturers retain protein functionality?
The industry is always innovating. One technology is called Innovative Steam Injection (ISI), which involves a very short blast of very high temperature (~160 C for 1 second) to inactivate microorganisms but does not denature the proteins.

NIZO figure 2

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Published by RenSun Lee

Kia ora! Sustainability is at the core of my soul ever since I was a kid. I always strive to finish the food on my plate and live as a minimalist. I love to cut down on waste in order to live sustainably and harmoniously with our planet. This brings me to my passion as a Food Scientist to integrate new technologies into innovative and creative solutions to meet customer demands and market trends and to optimize products and processes for quality, savings and sustainability. To these goals, I have published a Journal on my work on sustainable packaging and patented a new Antimicrobial wash. Nothing is more satisfying than working hard and smart at the workplace and playing hard outside of working hours. I enjoy rejuvenating myself through spending quality time with my two adorable kids and my awesome soul mate and getting close to nature when possible, be it gardening, tramping or going to the beach. I also love to learn about our magnificent universe and how sustainability is working in the grand scheme of things. I strongly believe that Work, Life & Balance is the key to a healthy state of mind, both physically and mentally. I look forward to making a positive difference wherever and whenever I can. Through this Blog, I hope to catalog recent Food Trends and Food Technologies that I come across so that anyone who is interested can have access to it (articles and resources). Please use these resources at your discretion. On top of that, I would also like to share related news and technologies of the future that would help mankind advance towards a Type 1 Civilization. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to share and contribute to the “Resources“. I would like to thank you in advance for dropping by. I sincerely hope that you can benefit from the recent Food Trends and Food Technologies I catalogued. Kind regards | Ngā mihi RenSun Lee

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