“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.
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.