Comparing protein sources

by Jeff Gelski
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Researchers continue to compare the benefits of soy protein vs. whey protein in processed food and beverage applications. Wheat protein, however, is another option, and new research into potato protein applications shows promise.

Solanic, a subsidiary of Avebe in The Netherlands, developed the potato protein. A technology involves dividing production flow of

potato juice into two separate product flows. A resulting high molecular fraction contains mainly the protein palatin, which results in a dry food ingredient. The low molecular fraction ends up as a liquid product. It mainly contains a protein fraction comprising the protease inhibitors in potatoes.

Solanic invited academics and industry members to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, in May to talk about protein sources from animals and vegetables, including potatoes.

"Today’s starch production results in high energy and water consumption and a lot of waste material," said Dr. Rudy Rabbinge, a professor at Wageningen University in The Netherlands. "A new separation process not only reduces energy and water consumption dramatically, it also changes a waste product into a promising vegetable protein."

No matter the source, processors should take into account protein quality, such as its amino acid content and digestibility, said Gertjan Schaafsma of Schaafsma Advisory Services in The Netherlands.

"The origin of the protein, be it vegetable or animal, is not even what matters," he said. "What counts is the quality of the protein, period."

Sensory qualities of whey, soy

The sensory properties of meal replacement products containing whey protein and soy protein were the focus of research in the Department of Food Science at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. An article about it appeared on-line this year in the Journal of Food Science. Prototypes of bars and beverages were developed with three levels of whey protein and soy protein and then evaluated through consumer acceptance testing.

Sweet aromatic and vanillin flavor notes characterized the bars made with whey protein. Adhesiveness and cohesiveness characterized the texture. The bars made with soy protein had a nutty flavor while the texture was characterized by tooth-pack and denseness. Consumer acceptance scores were higher for prototype bars and beverages containing whey protein or a mixture of whey and soy protein than for products made with soy protein alone.

Another ongoing research project is studying the consumption of whey protein, soy protein or an isocaloric control product in the reduction of body weight and fat, and any improvements in risk factors of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. That research is taking place at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service facility in Beltsville, Md. It is scheduled to conclude in 2009.

Whey and soy protein are combined in a bar solution called BarGain from Glanbia Nutritionals, Monroe, Wis. BarGain provides a soft texture and extended shelf life in low to moderate protein bars, according to Glanbia.

In wheat protein, MGP Ingredients, Atchison, Kas., offers Wheatex, a line of dry, unflavored, textured wheat proteins. They are available in various sizes, shapes and colors to mimic the texture and appearance of beef, poultry, pork, fish and seafood products.

This article can also be found in the digital edition of Food Business News, August 7, 2007, starting on Page 54. Click here to search that archive.

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