A new consortium of European food producers, universities and food research institutes has launched a project to develop bioremediation techniques based on fermentation optimize the quality of food products of plant origin.
Based in the Netherlands, the three-year project “Bio-purification of plant proteins” is supported by a donation from the Dutch government, through its own initiative Top sector of agriculture and food (TKI Agri & Food). The project will investigate the potential of fermentation to remove off-flavors and other unwanted characteristics in different plant proteins and isolates.
Its goal is to develop bioremediation strategies, processes removal of unpleasant tastes, antinutritional compounds and phytoestrogens from plant proteins, determining the advantages and limitations of such techniques. “To achieve this, the project will build on knowledge of how fermentation can remove unwanted components from pre-existing technologies within the consortium and industry in general,” the consortium stated.
The importance of fermentation
The fermentation It has been used for millennia to produce foods such as yogurt, bread and beer. Today, these biological mechanisms are used in a range of natural solutions, which have been expanded to include fermented soy to prevent heartburn, heat-stable probiotics in tea, and amino acid-rich yeast proteins.
Fermentation can be used to suppress certain compounds in proteins of plant origin which can cause off-flavors in the final products, such as hexanal in legume-based proteins, which create a noticeable “beany” taste.
“It can be very difficult, if not impossible, to completely remove these unwanted compounds using conventional food processing approaches, such as filtration or chemical processing. Furthermore, the extensive use of chemical additives does not really correspond to the vision of plant-based food as a natural, healthy and sustainable option,” concluded the Dutch consortium.
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