Scientists Have Created a Vegan Lab-grown Ice Cream

Sigal Samuel wrote . . . . . . . . .

Summer is here, and as we all know, that means one thing: delicious, glorious ice cream. It’s the perfect treat — cool, refreshing, silky, sweet, and … grown in a laboratory?

Yes, lab-grown ice cream is here. It’s made from whey protein produced by genetically modified yeast rather than by cows. In fact, not a single cow is needed to create this brand-new snack.

It’s the culmination of five years of work at Bay Area-based biotech startup Perfect Day. The founders, Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi, are young vegan bioengineers. They wanted to create a product that’s indistinguishable from cow-made dairy, yet reduces animal suffering by steering us away from factory farming, and helps fight global warming by reducing the number of methane-producing cattle and the land needed for grazing.

“Both of us happen to have a similar background of working in medicine, where therapeutics and medicines are made using basically fermentation already today,” Pandya said in an interview with Fast Company. “And so the two of us started scratching our heads and wondering, what if we just apply that same exact technology that’s been around for half a century to make the world’s most in-demand, highest-quality protein?”

There are already plenty of dairy-free ice creams out there — they’re made of everything from oats to almonds to chickpeas. But they don’t generally taste as creamy as traditional ice cream.

According to some lucky reporters who’ve tried it, Perfect Day’s ice cream does taste like the real thing, because it is the real thing: The scientists have made it using whey and casein, the exact same proteins that give milk its unique texture and flavor — it’s just that they’ve gotten a genetically engineered yeast to produce those proteins.

This is similar to the premise underlying lab-grown meat, which involves taking a few starter cells from a real animal, putting them in a growth medium, and allowing them to reproduce in the lab. What you get is genuine animal tissue — only you don’t have to slaughter an animal to get it.

Perfect Day goes one step further: It requires absolutely zilch from real animals, not even a single cell, a fact sure to appeal to vegans.

And the founders claim that making whey their way uses up 98 percent less water and 65 percent less energy than the traditional means of producing the protein.

They also point out that their method for making nutritious and delicious protein can be applied anywhere, including in regions where a harsh climate makes dairy farming tricky. “To that end,” their website says, “we’re building partnerships with governments and nonprofits across the planet who view Perfect Day’s approach as a means to provide environmentally sustainable and affordable protein to undernourished populations.”

Perfect Day so far has only a limited supply of the new ice cream. It sold samples to the first 1,000 customers to order via its website last week, who were offered vanilla salted fudge, vanilla blackberry toffee, and milky chocolate. The company quickly sold out, even though three pints cost a hefty $60! It may be a couple of years before you see its products on your grocery store’s shelves.

For now, the company is focused on becoming a supplier of animal-free protein to big food manufacturers, in hopes that’ll help it introduce the ingredient to a mainstream market. It’s already partnered with agribusiness giants such as ADM, from whom it’s raised some $60 million in venture funding.

It’s smart business for large food manufacturers to get in on this: The American market for for dairy alternatives (including dairy-free ice cream) is growing fast, just like the market for meat alternatives.

By aiming to partner with big manufacturers, Perfect Day is mirroring the strategy favored by meat alternative startups like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, which have teamed up with Burger King and Tyson, respectively.

These big players don’t share vegan values, but they have the mainstream cachet that could help a startup like Perfect Day scale up and penetrate the market faster than it otherwise would.

Source: Vox

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Soft Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups fat-free plain yogurt
2 eggs
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a mixing bowl, add the yogurt. Turn the mixer to low speed and alternate adding the dry ingredients and the eggs to the bowl. Slowly add the coffee and vanilla to the mixture. Continue mixing until the batter is smooth.
  4. Coat two 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray and pour equal amounts of batter into each cake pan.
  5. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cakes.

Makes 16 servings.

Source: Mayo Clinic

Nestlé Upcycling Cacoa Pod Leftovers Into New Chocolate Without any Added Sugar

Nestlé has created a KitKat bar that combines two things, chocolate and upcycling. Bloomberg reported yesterday that the Swiss candy maker has developed a way to use leftover material from cocoa plants to sweeten dark chocolate with no additional sugar.

How is this confectionary wizardry possible? Bloomberg writes, “The food company is using a patented technique to turn the white pulp that covers cocoa beans into a powder that naturally contains sugar.” Traditionally, this pulp has been thrown out, but by upcycling it, Nestlé can sweeten the bars without adding more sugar. This 70 percent dark chocolate KitKat bar will have “as much as 40 percent less sugar than most equivalent bars with added sugar,” according to Bloomberg, and will go on sale in Japan this fall.

An amusing sidenote to this story is that this discovery seems to be a bit of serendipity. Nestlé said it hadn’t set out to reduce the sugar, but was focused more on developing new ways to make chocolate using more of the cocoa pod. But we know that the company, facing consumers who are more health conscious and rising obesity rates, has been working on reducing sugars in its products. A little over a year ago Nestlé debuted a process of restructuring sugar that gave it more surface area and thus required using less of it while maintaining the same level of sweetness.

And Nestlé isn’t alone in looking to satisfy our global sweet tooth without sacrificing flavor. Israeli startup DouxMatok raised $22 million last month for its technology that uses silica to help sugar diffuse more efficiently in our mouths, so less is required. And in May, Singapore-based Nutrition Innovation raised $5 million for its Nucane, which is a lower glycemic sugar made via a different type of processing at sugar mills.

Nestlé said its new process could expand beyond dark chocolate and into milk and white chocolate as well. Even sweeter than the reduction in sugar is the reduction in food waste. Hopefully other companies will have cravings to follow suit.

Source: The Spoon

WHO Says Baby Food Has Too Much Sugar And Is Marketed Wrongly

Sarah Boseley wrote . . . . . . . . .

Commercial baby foods contain too much sugar – even when they are labelled as savoury meals, says the World Health Organization, which is seeking a ban on added sugars in foods for children under 36 months old.

WHO Europe is calling for a crackdown on the high levels of sugar in the diet of babies fed on commercially available foods, warning that their first teeth may suffer and they are at risk of developing a preference for sweet foods, which may lead to overweight and obesity-related disease in adulthood.

It also says sugar-laden baby foods are being inappropriately marketed for babies under the age of six months, even though the WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to that age.

An analysis from WHO Europe of what was for sale in the UK, Denmark and Spain in 2016-17 showed that commercially available baby foods generally complied with guidance on salt, protein, fat and carbohydrate, but many products were high in sugar.

Sugars accounted for 70% of the food calories in fruit purees, but the purees were also added to savoury meals. “Many savoury type meals sold in the United Kingdom and Denmark derived over 15% energy from total sugars, with fruit purée providing much of the sugar content even in ostensibly savoury products,” said the WHO report.

These can be considered free sugars, just as they are in fruit juice, and if eaten frequently “may pose a threat to the very young as first teeth erupt”. The sweetness may also influence the child’s food preferences as they grow up, said the report.

The report, described as a discussion paper, sets out WHO Europe’s recommendations for a “nutrient profile model” for baby foods.

The WHO says all added sugars, including fruit juice concentrate, should be banned from all commercial baby foods. No foods should contain more than 5% of pureed fruit by total weight, particularly in savoury foods. Dry savoury snack foods, such as biscuits, should not have more than 15% of calories supplied by sugar.

Fruit drinks and juices, sweetened cows’ milk and milk alternatives, confectionery and sweet snacks should not be marketed as suitable for infants and young children up to 36 months.

The WHO says the labelling of sugar in baby foods needs improvement. Many baby foods in the UK have misleading labels, it says. Cow & Gate’s butternut squash, chicken and pasta for babies from seven months does not name the largest vegetable component, while chicken is only 9.5%. It suggests it should be renamed “Tomato pasta with butternut squash and chicken”. Heinz strawberry, raspberry and banana puree sold for babies from four months does not have the main ingredient in the name. It should be called concentrated apple puree (79%) with banana (8%) and raspberry (5%), it suggests.

The lead author, Dr João Breda, head of the WHO European office for prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases, said they were very concerned about the high levels of sugar in baby foods and the labelling of products.

“In these commercial products we found a very significant amount have added sugar,” he said. “There is way too much sugar. Added sugar in many products should be eliminated, in our view. The total amount of sugar is also too high in many products. And we have issues with marketing. A lot of products are marketed as suitable at four months and under six months, totally against the WHO guidelines.”

Although babies like the sweetness of breast milk, it was important to let them explore different tastes after six months, he said. “We are talking about diversification of the diet at six months. It is really crucial you have products that are not only sweet products. If babies are exposed to different tastes from the beginning, they will be more willing to try other things.”

He said there was already a move to reformulate these products in the food industry, which he hoped governments would encourage.

A second report finds widespread inappropriate promotion of commercial baby foods in four countries – Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and Israel, all of which are in the WHO’s Europe region – even though guidance on the claims that can be made was agreed in 2016.

Across all four countries, 28% to 60% of baby foods were marketed as suitable for under six months, in violation of the WHO’s code. The agency recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to six months. Between a third and three-quarters of products made health claims, which are also not allowed under the guidelines, and 16% to 53% had cartoon characters on the labelling, which is not recommended because it encourages “pester power” in children. Sweet flavours predominated in the products.

Source: The Guardian

A New and Better Way to ‘Stage’ Alzheimer’s Patients?

Steven Reinberg wrote . . . . . . . . .

One of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s is the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain, but what part those plaques play in the development of the disease isn’t clear.

Now researchers have taken the first steps to trace the progression of plaque buildup in living patients. This way of “staging” the disease has implications for research and one day may help doctors treat this debilitating, fatal disease.

“It is possible to stage individuals in terms of how advanced their beta-amyloid deposition is, using PET scans,” said lead researcher Dr. Niklas Mattsson, an associate professor of clinical neuroscience at Lund University in Sweden.

When beta-amyloid appears, it follows certain stages, he explained. Some brain regions are involved early, others at the intermediate stage, and some in the late stage of Alzheimer’s.

“These stages are also associated with other hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, such as levels of tau [another type of protein] in cerebral spinal fluid, cognitive decline and the wasting away of brain cells,” Mattsson added.

“This staging system can be used both to improve research and perhaps also in clinical trials, to see if certain drugs are likely to be most effective in certain stages of Alzheimer’s,” Mattsson said.

By the time Alzheimer’s is typically diagnosed, the brain is already destroyed, said Meredith Braskie, an assistant professor of neurology at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She was not involved with the study.

The disease takes years to develop, which is why finding a way to diagnose it early is important, Braskie said. Most studies on plaque have been done on the brains of dead people.

“This study is important because they were looking at how amyloid spreads in living patients and coming up with stages for that,” Braskie said.

Although no cure exists for Alzheimer’s today, this finding could also help in testing drugs as they are developed, she said.

But, “this isn’t directly related to patient care,” Braskie said. “It’s more for research to see if treatments are working.”

For the study, Mattsson and his colleagues used PET scans from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative database. Among the 741 participants, 304 had no cognitive impairment, 384 had mild cognitive impairment, and 53 had Alzheimer’s disease. Patients were followed up at two, four and six years.

At the start of the study, about 98% of the 2,072 scans weren’t staged. Of those in the earliest stage of plaque development, about 15% would likely progress to a more advanced stage, as would 71% of those at stage 1 and 53% of those at stage 2.

As patients moved from stage 1 to stages 2 and 3, amyloid plaque developed in more vital areas of the brain, the researchers noted.

Interestingly, nearly 1% of the patients reverted to a lower stage, the researchers found. Higher stages were linked to higher concentrations of tau in cerebral spinal fluid. More tau in stage 2 indicated a more rapid progression to cognitive decline. The researchers were able to confirm their findings in a different group of 474 patients.

The areas affected in the brain differed in each stage and were also linked to differences in genetics, blood circulation, brain cell behavior and cholesterol levels.

“I think that it is clear from these data that the earlier the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is supported by amyloid imaging, the earlier clinicians are likely to initiate drug therapy,” said Dr. Sam Gandy. He’s chair of Alzheimer’s Disease Research and director of the Mount Sinai Center for Cognitive Health and NFL Neurological Care in New York City.

This would be a change from current practice, which is not to start drug therapy until patients have advanced beyond the mild cognitive impairment and are well into mild Alzheimer’s disease, said Gandy, who had no part in the study.

However, Gandy isn’t sure that beginning drug therapy when mild cognitive impairment starts and a scan shows plaque would benefit all or only some patients.

Also, he would like to see if the staging system would work the same way among patients with and without the APOE gene mutations, which are linked to Alzheimer’s.

“These data would potentially have some impact on care and on designing future research studies,” Gandy said. “Whether those changes in practice would have meaningful benefits for patients is not clear.”

The report was published online in the journal JAMA Neurology, to coincide with a presentation of the findings at the Alzheimer’s Association annual meeting, in Los Angeles.

Source: HealthDay


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