A new use has been found for the animal proteins found in meat industry waste.
A Russian company is planning to include them in ice-cream.
Until now these proteins have been underutilised, says a report (here) at ScienceDaily.
The challenge is to transform the waste into food of higher functionality and added value.
Thanks to the findings of the EU funded PROSPARE project, it is possible to reuse the protein and lipid fraction of disused food, according to project co-ordinator Arnaldo Dossena, who is the head of the food science department at the University of Parma, in Italy.
Up to 50% of the animal weight processed in the meat industry is discarded as left-overs and ends up composted or incinerated, despite being rich in proteins and lipids.
Turning the lipid portion of the waste into biodiesel has been too expensive.
The focus therefore has gone on reusing proteins.
Today, only 22% is converted by the food industry into feed and barely 3% is consumed as food.
The problem is that recovery methods are energy intensive. They also convert the source proteins into meals with poorer digestibility and nutrient properties as well as a low commercial value.
Thanks to a process involving enzymes to digest food, poultry left-overs such as bone and meat trimmings can be converted into proteins dubbed functional animal protein hydrolyzates.
They differ from existing protein hydrolyzates, from eggs, buttermilk or fish already on the market in that they have a higher content of nutritionally useful amino acids.
They can be used as supplements for sports diet, to help build up muscle tissue, and as additives in processed food, for example.
So far, some of their properties — namely prebiotic, antimicrobiotic, antioxidant and hypotensive — have been demonstrated in vitro.
ScienceDaily says the technology developed under the project is now being tested by a Belgian food company, PROLIVER.
The company hopes to enhance the nutritional quality of its protein hydrolysates, already sold in dietary, health and sports food supplements.
One of the project partners, Mobitek-M, which is a Russian company specialised in production of protein-enriched food stuffs, is also planning on including these products into ice-cream, under the follow-up Rosano Project. They have built a plant in the Belgorod region of the Russian Federation, which is about to start of transforming functional animal protein at a capacity of one hundred tonnes per day.
One advantage is to reduce the impact of the food production on the environment.
Market possibilities are seen for specialised protein products that are easily assimilated by the bodies of sick people, the elderly and athletes.
“The materials have a one up to two years shelf life,” Dossena says, “[they] can be used to increase the protein count where there is a protein deficit since they contain many free amino acids [which are therefore easily absorbed].”
One snag is the lack of EU-wide specific regulations. They are approved on a case-by-case basis in individual EU countries.
Protein hydrolyzates approved in national EU markets need to qualify as a specific food product category, says Karin Verzijden, a food regulatory expert in Amsterdam.
For example, these products might qualify as dietary supplements.
“It really depends on the emphasis that is put on their ability to be digested much quicker than regular proteins for instance,” Verzijden said.
Until regulatory issues are sorted out, it may be a while before these products reach their potential users.