Watch this webinar series focused on alternative proteins and plant-based meats. For the past weeks, our speakers shared their expertise in talks of approximately 20-minutes.

All presentations are now available on-demand.

Topics and speakers:

Session 1: On-demand
18 minutes

High moisture extrusion is considered as key technology for producing plant-based meat. It presents a continuous process comprising a high range of adjustable parameters that allow to achieve different textures. To obtain plant-based products with a texture perception similar to meat, the aim of extrusion is to impart an anisotropic, fibrous and gel-like structure into plant proteins. Although this process is frequently applied for producing plant-based meat, many consumers still lack variety in marketed products, especially in terms of meat types and protein sources. To cope with this demand, food companies continue to develop new ingredients and products with the goal to mimic the taste and texture of meat. This contribution will highlight, how the compact and modular design of Thermo Scientific twin-screw extruders can enable companies in food industry to save resources on material testing and accelerate process development. Examples will be given on how our processing equipment can be applied to create a wide range of meat-like textures.

Speaker: Valerie Pietsch, Dr.-Ing. Thermo Fisher Scientific, Karlsruhe, Germany

Valerie Pietsch is a trained food technologist (Dipl.-Ing., Technical University of Berlin) and holds a PhD from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in food extrusion processing. In January 2019, Valerie Pietsch started working as an application specialist at Thermo Fisher Scientific, Material Characterization, in Karlsruhe, Germany. As part of her work, she focuses on the development of extrusion process solutions for customers in the food industry. 

Session 2: On-demand
25 minutes

Successful extrusion processing is highly dependent upon the specific machines used, configurations of screws, barrels, and dies on those machines, as well as optimizing operational settings for your specific blends. To further complicate matters, the moisture content and chemical composition of your blends will impact how you set and run your extrusion system. The goal of this presentation is to discuss some of the fundamental chemistry that you need to understand, and which will impact your ability to successfully extrude various ingredient blends. Specifically, proteins, starches, and lipids will be covered. These three components play a large role in the success or failure of extrusion operations, and understanding their fundamentals is a key step to a better understanding of your blends.

Kurt Rosentrater, Associate Professor, Iowa State University

Kurt Rosentrater is a food engineer by training. Over the years, he has worked as an engineer and a research scientist in industry, government, and academia. His professional interests revolve around creating sustainable pathways forward for the grain processing, human food, animal feed, bioproduct, and biorenewable industries by developing, analyzing, and optimizing processes and products that maximize value and minimize negative consequences for all stakeholders, including producers, consumers, and the environment. 

Session 3: On-demand
22 minutes

Proteins have many functions in foods. Beyond their nutritional properties, they play a wide range of structure, texture, and flavor roles. These roles can be modified with other ingredients, but consumers increasingly desire short ingredient statements with familiar and easy-to-identify components. Further, many households want ingredients in their foods that add a functional benefit such as beneficial bioactive compounds like polyphenols. Along with their bioactive properties, polyphenols are known to modify protein function.  

Polyphenols are ubiquitous plant compounds that offer many potential health benefits including anti-inflammatory properties, cardiovascular benefits, and chemoprotective effects. The healthful perception of foods such as cranberries, dark chocolate, and red wine is derived primarily from the benefits of polyphenols.  

The affinity of proteins and polyphenols for one another results in protein-polyphenol interactions that can be leveraged to expand protein functionality. There are a range of potential impacts of protein-polyphenol interactions based on the specific proteins and polyphenols interacted, as well as the conditions under which they interact. This talk will focus on sorting through those potentials and identifying processing conditions that produce desired results.

Audrey Girard, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Dept. of Food Science, UW-Madison

Dr. Audrey Girard is an assistant professor specializing in food chemistry in the Department of Food Science at UW-Madison. She earned a B.S. in Bakery Science & Management from Kansas State University and a Ph.D. in Food Science & Technology from Texas A&M University. Audrey’s overarching research goal is to use protein chemistry to improve food quality and sustainability, as well as to promote human health.

Session 4: On-demand
16 minutes

Meat analogs are becoming more common as the desire for plant-based diets increases. Recent interest has been focused on encompassing the appearance and taste of meat counterparts in certain meat analogs, such as ground meat, burger patties, or sausage. An important part of encompassing the appearance is color, and many protocols used in the meat industry and are being adopted in the plant-based meat space. Visible absorption spectroscopy is a common technique used to measure things like protein, calcium, or iron content in both meat and meat analogs, and reflectance can be used with advanced UV-Vis instruments and accessories to measure color with CIE. Here, we describe some of these methods and the ways in which Thermo Scientific GENESYS UV-Vis Spectrophotometers can simplify your workflows.

Lauren Ebersol, Product Specialist – UV-Vis Spectroscopy, Thermo Fisher Scientific

Lauren Ebersol has been with Thermo Fisher Scientific as a product specialist supporting cuvette-based UV-vis instruments since May 2022. She works to provide the best spectrophotometers by collecting user feedback, assessing market trends, working closely with colleagues across Thermo Fisher Scientific and using her experience in product management. Lauren received a master’s degree in chemistry from Penn State University, where she studied protein structure and function using EPR spectroscopy.

Session 5: On-demand
16 minutes

There is a growing demand for alternative meat, dairy, and snack foods generated from plant-based protein sources. However, consumers still expect these novel products to look and feel like their animal-based originals. Rheological measurements can be used to quantify the structural and mechanical properties of these newly developed food products. For example, a rheometer can assess the flow behavior of dairy alternatives like plant-based milks and yogurts as well as evaluate the viscoelastic properties of meat analogues and plant-based cheeses. In addition, modern rheometers can be equipped with normal force sensors, allowing them to conduct texture analysis and even compressibility tests. This presentation will provide examples of how rheology can be used to better quantify the structure and texture of plant-based food products and extrudates.

Gabriela Saavedra, Dr.-Ing., Application Specialist Food Extrusion, Thermo Fisher Scientific

Gabriela Saavedra is a trained process bioengineer (B. Sc. and M. Sc., Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) and holds a PhD from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in food process engineering. In January 2022, Gabriela Saavedra started working as an application specialist at Thermo Fisher Scientific, Material Characterization, in Karlsruhe, Germany. As part of her work, she focuses on the development of material characterization and extrusion solutions for customers in the food industry.

Session 6: On-demand
23 minutes

Extrusion is a scalable, effective mechanical process that can create meat analogues with fibrous textures, thus enhancing the taste and texture of alternative protein products. One potential bottleneck for consumer acceptability is that extrusion processing adds to conceptions that alternative protein products are “highly processed” and, therefore, unhealthy. In reality, literature studies demonstrate that extrusion cooking enhances protein digestibility, reduces antinutrient content, and can reduce ingredient allergenicity. This talk will review studies that demonstrate the effects of extrusion on plant protein digestibility and nutrition. There will also be an emphasis on research gaps that should be further explored to demonstrate the benefits and potential pitfalls of extrusion cooking for the production of meat analogues.

Speaker: Priera Panescu, Ph.D., Senior Scientist – Plant-Based Specialist, Good Food Institute

Priera Panescu’s role at GFI focuses on accelerating the plant-based meat industry through analyzing their plant-based protein landscape, identifying emerging technological solutions and bottlenecks, and communicating with other scientists about advancing alternative protein research. Priera has bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and math from the University of California, Santa Cruz as well as a master’s and a doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles. Prior to joining GFI, Priera spent almost a decade focusing on polymer, formulation, and materials chemistry research. Particularly, she honed these skills for food security applications by creating novel sustainable agriculture materials and compounds.

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