A team of American researchers is developing isolation techniques for insect proteins. In a new study, scientists from West Virginia University determined the nutritional and functional properties of insect protein powder from cricket, grasshopper and silkworm pupae.
The global demand for sustainable sources of protein has created a shift from traditional sources such as meat to other sources that have otherwise been overlooked. Edible insects and insect meals are promising as a meat substitute because they are usually high in protein and contain all the essential amino acids.
Protein purification and concentration
He protein isolation It is a process that enables the purification and increasing concentration of proteins from different sources. The protein can be effectively isolated from insects using pH precipitation solutions, the study said.
After protein isolation, essential amino acids in cricket, lobster and silkworm powder were found to exceed recommendations. Almost 70% of insect proteins are dissolved in alkaline pH, while only 7% in pH 4-6. Lobster powder was found to contain muscle proteins, myosin and actin.
Insect protein isolates can have high nutritional and functional quality. In addition, the researchers have a patent for a protein isolation process that allowed them to isolate proteins in insects.
You may be interested in: Insects: the food of the future
Fulfilling sustainability requirements
The insect protein It can be harvested much faster than a cow or a pig and requires less land and water use. Insects are also short-lived, reproduce quickly and require simple, minimal habitat and nutritional needs, the researchers point out.
The harvest cycle of insects lasts about 45 days, much shorter than the 4 to 36 months of traditional farm animals. 80% of the world’s human population already consumes insects. Western cultures account for the 20% that do not. There is a minority that does not consume insects.
As consumers become more concerned about the planet, the appeal of insects has generated increasing interest, and it is estimated that the insect protein market could potentially be worth up to US$8 billion by 2030.
Challenges related to insect consumption
A key problem in integration consumption of insects The researchers point out that the disease factor could be overcome by turning the insect into powder. This is similar to how grains are processed into flour to make it more edible.
Scientists emphasize that, although insect powders are a simple and practical method for extending the shelf life, the original composition represents an obstacle in their application in food products. However, development is proceeding rapidly, with projects aiming to increase the popularity and sustainability of insect-derived products.
You may be interested in: Market of insects for human consumption, an upward trend