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ARS Home » Southeast Area » New Orleans, Louisiana » Southern Regional Research Center » Food Processing and Sensory Quality Research » Research » Research Project #442426

Research Project: Biochemical Approach to Protein Processing, Texturization and Nutritionally Beneficial Plant-based Foods

Location: Food Processing and Sensory Quality Research

Project Number: 6054-43440-053-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Jun 24, 2022
End Date: Jun 23, 2027

Objective 1: Resolve the underlying biochemical mechanisms involved in effective texturization of plant proteins to enable increased commercial use of bean-based ingredients. Objective 2: Develop innovative methods for texturization of plant-based proteins and assess the effects of these technologies on food product quality and sensory characteristics to enable the development of new products.

In recent times, there has been a rising demand from consumers for high protein foods. As a result, global protein markets are expected to expand with increasing consumer health consciousness and growing demand for plant-based food. Along with these current trends, there is a looming food deficit on the horizon. By 2050, global food production will need to increase by 70% to feed the rapidly growing world population. To accomplish this, roughly 33% of dietary protein will need to come from protein isolates derived from alternative sources. US agricultural commodities like pulse crops, oil seeds, cereals, hemp, and others can be utilized to fill these protein deficits. To support utilization of these commodities, research is needed to identify components linked to functional, nutritional, and organoleptic quality of protein isolates and texturized vegetable protein, and high moisture meat analogs made from them. Because this is an emerging area of study, there is a lack of scientific literature and understanding related to the biochemical and processing factors that influence quality of these products. Identifying the mechanisms behind product variability will provide avenues to reduce it. The goals of this research are to decrease global food shortages and increase value of US agricultural commodities by advancing strategies to incorporate alternative proteins into the human diet. This research will enhance the functionality of alternative protein isolates, texturized vegetable proteins, and high moisture meat analogs through optimization of processing and biochemical modifications while maintaining or improving their sensory quality. Technologies such as extrusion will be used to yield texturized proteins and meat analogues, and analytical and affective sensory analysis methods will be used to assess end-use quality. The central hypothesis of this project is that alternative protein functionality and quality is dependent on the synergistic effects of processing techniques as well as the biochemistry of the starting material.