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Food Engineering Highlights Innophos Solutions for Plant-Based Meat Substitutes

The article is from the November Digital issue of Food Engineering summarizing key insights from Innophos’ recent whitepaper: Solutions for Plant-Based Meat Substitutes. In this excerpt, team members address the specific challenges with formulating plant-based meat substitutes and the solutions that Innophos offers.

Mechanical processing techniques, such as extrusion, shearing, spinning and mixing, are often used to enhance the texture of meat alternatives, according to a white paper by Innophos’ Karen Winkowski, Ph.D., Songwei Wu and Amr Shaheed entitled, “Solutions for Plant-Based Meat Substitutes.” But the authors go on to say that those techniques aren’t enough to “mimic the organoleptic properties of meat products” on their own. The solution to creating a plant-based alternative with better taste and texture, they say, are phosphates.

Using phosphates, the authors believe that consumer adoption of plant-based alternatives to meat can be increased by creating a similar overall experience to animal-based protein products.

“Phosphates are key ingredients in developing appealing meat substitutes because they impact protein functionality (for example: ability to form gels, hold water, absorb fat, emulsify),” say the authors. “These functionalities impart sensory characteristics to the food products such as flavor, texture and taste which ultimately determines consumer acceptability of new products.”

According to the white paper, phosphates modulate protein functionalities in many ways. Phosphates can change pH and ionic strength or can chelate metals in the protein solutions indirectly affecting the properties of the protein. Phosphates also exhibit polyelectrolyte behavior, binding proteins and water through electrostatic interactions. The phosphate-protein interaction is influenced by pH changes, the addition of cations, and the phosphate chain length, which determines the degree of ionization.

Read more in the article: Alternative Protein Report - Achieving a Full Sensory Experience

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