Designing a Better Low-fat Potato Chip

Munching on low-fat potato chips might reduce the guilt compared with full-fat versions, but many people don’t find the texture as appealing. Now, researchers have developed a technique to analyze potato chips’ physical characteristics from simulated first bite to swallow, which they say could be used to help formulate a tastier low-fat snack. They report their results in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Cutting fat in potato chips usually involves reducing the vegetable oil content. However, the oil helps give the product its characteristic crunch, taste and mouthfeel. When food scientists formulate a new low-fat chip, they often rely on trained sensory panelists to tell them how well the new snack simulates the full-fat version. This process can be expensive, time-consuming and often subjective, since perceptions can vary based on factors like a person’s saliva flow rate and composition. While at PepsiCo, Stefan Baier –– now at Motif Ingredients –– and Jason Stokes’ team at the University of Queensland wanted to develop a more objective method to analyze the physical characteristics of a potato chip at four stages of simulated eating: the first bite, when the chip is taken from the package and broken by the teeth; comminution, when the chip particles are broken down further and wet by saliva; bolus formation, when the small, softened particles begin to clump as enzymes in saliva digest the starches; and swallow, when the clumped mass moves to the rear of the mouth and is finally swallowed.

To develop their method, called in vitro oral processing, the researchers used different instruments to measure the physical characteristics of chips with various oil contents at each of the four stages. For example, for the “first bite” stage, they conducted mechanical testing to measure the force required to break the chips, and for bolus formation, they measured the hydration rate of particles in buffer as the fragments became a soft solid. The researchers used the results to design a lower-fat chip coated in a thin layer of seasoning oil, which contained a small amount of a food emulsifier. The seasoning oil made the low-fat chip more closely resemble the greasiness of a full-fat one in tests with sensory panelists, but it only added 0.5% more oil to the product. Food scientists could use the new technique to link physical measurements with sensory perceptions, the researchers say.

Source: American Chemical Society


Japanese Startup Will Sell Cultured Foie Gras by 2021

Catherine Lamb wrote . . . . . . . . .

At SKS Japan this week, lots of speakers have been predicting what the future of food might look like: it might be cooked by robotic articulating arms, it might be carbon neutral, or it might be personalized to individuals’ specific tastes.

But the most futuristic vision of all might have come from Yuki Hanyu, CEO and founder of DIY cultured meat community Shojinmeat. He sketched out a time in which we’re all living on Mars, growing steak in bioreactors in much the same way we brew beer right now.

That reality is still a long way off. However, right now Hanyu is still working on quite a few projects pushing us towards a future in which everyone — yes, even you — can grow their own meat, and cultured meat is available in your corner supermarket.

Shojinmeat was the original enterprise, but in 2015 Hanyu spun out Integriculture, a startup creating full-stack cellular agriculture solutions. After his session at SKS Japan, Hanyu described his company’s projected timeline to me:


By the end of this year Integriculture will start selling Space Salt, a dried version of cell culture media. For those who don’t nerd out on cellular agriculture, media is the liquid “food” that allows animal cells to rapidly proliferate to form meat. Space Salt is Integriculture’s (secret) proprietary blend of salt and food safe amino acids, which, when mixed with water, forms a DIY cell culture media. Hanyu wants to sell it to home enthusiasts who can use it to grow their own meat using Shojinmeat guide.


While its focus is cultured meat, in 2020 Integriculture is also planning to sell its media for use in cosmetic applications, specifically as an anti-aging skincare product.


In 2021, Integriculture will launch its first cell-based meat product: foie gras. Hanyu said that they decided to tackle foie gras as its first product because of its creamy texture, which means that they don’t have to emulate the texture and chew of meat. Since foie gras is already quite expensive, starting with that product will also presumably give consumers less of a sticker shock when they see its high price. Accordingly they plan to launch first in high-end restaurants in Japan.

“We’re not aiming for massive revenue at first,” Hanyu told me during SKS Japan. Instead, he’s expecting that the foie gras launch will be more of a proof of concept to show that cell-based meat is feasible and delicious. He also wants it to help establish regulatory guidelines for cultured animal products in Japan.

Which brings us back to the Space Salt. Presumably, when Integriculture starts selling its cell-based foie gras, Japanese food regulatory bodies will ask the company what’s in it in order to approve it for public consumption. At that time Hanyu and his team plan to show that the only two inputs are duck liver cells and Space Salt (plus water), the latter of which contains ingredients that are already sold on the market. He’s hoping that if they prove that duck liver and Space Salt are both already available for purchase, then by the transitive property their cell-based foie gras shouldn’t pose a problem.

If the 2021 restaurant launch goes as planned, Integriculture will start selling foie gras in supermarkets in 2023.

An ambitious timeline, to be sure — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The JST (Japan Science and Technology) Agency, part of the Japanese government, is investing part of its $20 million funding in Integriculture’s research for large-scale cell-based meat. The company is also working with JAXA (the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency) on its Space Food X program, which is developing closed-loop food solutions for space travelers.

That’s a lot of balls to juggle for the startup, especially one with only 13 employees and ¥300 million (USD 2.7 million) in funding. There’s also relatively little local support: despite the fact that cultured meat will likely debut in Asia, Japan is still quite light on cellular agriculture startups.

Interestingly, there’s at least one other company openly working in the cell-based meat space — and it’s a big one. Nissin Foods, the instant ramen giant, is partnering with the University of Tokyo to develop their own small cultured meat cubes to include in their freeze-dried ramen packs.

However, as they’re a large company which would require billions of tiny cell-based meat cubes — and they need to make them cheaply to keep down the cost of their product — Hanyu said that they’re likely 10 years away from actually incorporating cultured pork or chicken into the ramen packs.

Maybe then highbrow consumers will be able to have instant noodles with lab-grown foie gras.

Source: The Spoon

Mapping the Flavour Genome

Michael Wolf wrote . . . . . . . . .

Beth Altringer first became fascinated in flavor when she joined a competitive wine tasting league while in graduate school at The University of Cambridge.

While it had nothing to do with her field of study (product design and innovation), the very idea of breaking down the characteristics of wine and its flavor into highly descriptive and well understood categories was a revelation to Altringer, so much so she eventually began to think about the idea of applying this systematic and analytical approach to flavor to almost any type of food.

It was from there that the Flavor Genome Project was born, an initiative that “explores how components of flavor combine to create delightful multi-sensory, chemical, emotional, and cultural experiences.” The goal of the project is to eventually create an “automated understanding of what people are intuitively searching for in a food or drink experience, regardless of the language they use to search for it, intelligently understanding flavor goals in context, and, ultimately, making it easier for people to discover experiences they are likely to enjoy.”

According to Altringer, the Flavor Genome Project is intended to be a platform that could be a foundation for other products, and the first of those product is a mobile game called Chef’s League. The iOS game allows players to compete to master the usage of different flavor characteristics such as “salt, sweetness, acidity, fat, spice, and more.”

Source: The Spoon

Read more about the Flavor Genome Project . . . . .

Watch video at vimeo (2:34 minutes) . . . . .

Millions of People Eat Octopus- Here’s Why We Shouldn’t

David Knowles wrote . . . . . . . . .

Farming octopuses is not only unethical but deeply damaging to the environment, scientists say.

From the Mediterranean to the Sea of Japan, octopuses are considered a culinary delicacy, and demand is growing. Of the estimated 350,000 tonne annual catch, two-thirds goes to Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea (a whole third of the global catch ends up in China) but European countries such as Spain and Italy are also big octopus importers.

To meet growing demand, many countries are experimenting with raising octopuses in artificial conditions. One Japanese company reported hatching octopus eggs in captivity in 2017 and wants to open its first farm in 2020. In Spain, experiments with net pens, in tanks on land and in large sea ‘ranches’ are ongoing.

But, as a team of scientists from New York University argue, for environmental and ethical reasons, we should avoid farming octopuses.

There is already a wealth of research that suggests octopuses are one of the most complex and intelligent animals in the ocean. They can recognise individual human faces, solve problems (and remember the answers for months) and there is some evidence they experience pain and suffering. Numerous videos on the internet of octopuses escaping from their tanks or stealing fishermen’s catches have fuelled a human fascination with the only invertebrate that the 2012 Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness considers sentient alongside mammals and birds.

Keeping intelligent animals like octopuses in large, industrial farms poses numerous ethical issues and a lot of it is down to how aquaculture has evolved over the past decades.

Existing aquaculture, the scientists say, depends on “tightly controlled and monotonous environments…with constant ambient conditions, simplified and sterile enclosures, and rigid feeding schedules, aimed at supporting high stocking densities.”

This is anathema to a curious and active octopus which is more likely to catch infections, become more aggressive and have a high mortality rate when reared in farming conditions.

Aside from the ethical qualms, the environmental impact of octopus farming also worries the scientists.

The amount of feed needed to sustain and grow an octpus is three times the weight of the animal itself and, given that octopuses are carnivorous and live on fish oils and protein, rearing them risks putting further pressure on an already over-exploited marine ecoystem.

Even as demand grows, octopus farming is still in its infancy. Researchers and breeders have yet to figure out reliable ways to keep octopuses alive during their infancy and the farms that do exist can find it difficult to manage such an intelligent animal.

Octopuses are just one of the vast number of marine animals humans use for food, and the idea of farming them poses profound questions about our relationship with a fracturing natural world.

Source : World Economic Forum

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