The urgency of trends for reducing emissions, the need for green energy, overcoming climate change and obtaining food and livestock without the use of cruel treatment of animals, and the consumption of protein in mankind is unlikely to decrease. Also, vegetarianism in all its forms will continue to be trendy, shops and restaurants with vegan cuisine are opened all over the place, social networks propagate the transition from meat eating to plant food. Can we get meat without having to kill a cow or a pig?
The first area of work is the production of vegetable proteins, which will be subjected to reengineering and “repackaging” in a form similar to meat. Synthetic food – meat, eggs, milk and dairy products – is already being actively created as a result of laboratory experiments.
Man has long mastered the technology of extracting pure protein from soybean, cotton, rapeseed, sunflower, peanut, rice, corn, peas, wheat, green leaves, potatoes, hemp and many other plants. However, these are inferior vegetable proteins that do not contain some essential amino acids. And in nutrition, a person needs a high-grade animal protein in sufficient quantities.
Synthetic food products (SFP) are products derived from chemically synthesized nutrients. Modern synthetic organic chemistry in principle makes it possible to synthesize any food substances from individual chemical elements, but the complexity of synthesizing high molecular compounds, which include food biopolymers, especially proteins and polysaccharides (starch, fiber), makes the production of SFP at the present stage economically impractical. Therefore, so far from the products of chemical synthesis, low-molecular vitamins and amino acids are used in nutrition. Synthetic amino acids and their mixtures are used as additives to natural food products to enhance their protein usefulness, as well as in therapeutic nutrition (including for intravenous administration to patients whose normal diet is difficult or impossible).
The world deficit of a high-grade food protein (containing all essential amino acids, that is, not synthesized by the body) affecting 3/4 of the world’s population puts before humanity the urgent task of finding rich, affordable and cheap sources of high-quality protein for enriching the natural and creating new, so-called. artificial, protein products. Artificial food products (AFP) are foods that are rich in high-grade protein, obtained on the basis of natural food substances, by preparing a mixture of solutions or dispersions of these substances with food-based gelatinizers and giving them a certain structure (structuring) and forms of specific food products.
Now, proteins from two main sources are used for the production of AFP: proteins extracted from unconventional natural food raw materials, the reserves of which in the world are large enough – vegetable (soybean, peanut, sunflower, cottonseed, sesame, rapeseed, and oil cake and meal from seeds of these crops, peas, wheat gluten, green leaves and other green parts of plants) and the animal (casein milk, low-grade fish, krill and other sea organisms); proteins synthesized by microorganisms, in particular different types of yeast.
The exceptional rate of protein synthesis by yeast and their ability to grow both in food (sugar, beer wort, oil cake) and in non-food (oil hydrocarbons) make yeast a promising and almost inexhaustible source of protein for manufacturing AFP by factory methods. However, the widespread use of microbiological raw materials for the production of food products requires the creation of effective methods for the production and processing of highly purified proteins and careful medical and biological research. In this regard, the protein of yeast, grown on agricultural waste and petroleum hydrocarbons, is used mainly in the form of yeast fodder, for feeding agricultural animals.
Food from Waste
More promising was another process – the preparation of fungal biomass and a full-fledged fungal protein of mycoprotein, using as a substrate a mixture of paraffin oil (very cheap waste from the oil refining industry), vegetable carbohydrates from food waste, mineral fertilizers and poultry waste.
The task of industrial microbiologists was to create mutant forms of microorganisms, sharply superior to their natural counterparts, i.e. obtaining super-producers of high-grade protein from raw materials. In this area, great progress has been made: for example, it has been possible to obtain microorganisms that synthesize proteins up to a concentration of 100 g / l (for comparison: wild-type organisms accumulate proteins in amounts of milligrams). As a producer of microbial protein, researchers chose two types of all-devouring microorganisms capable of feeding even paraffins of oil: the filamentous fungus Endomycopsis fibuligera and the yeast-like fungus Candida tropicalis (one of the causative agents of candidiasis and intestinal dysbiosis in humans). Each of these producers forms about 40% of a high-grade protein.
The scientists also selected the conditions for pretreatment of waste added to the paraffins of oil for optimal growth of the fungal microflora. Chicken manure is diluted and hydrolyzed under acidic conditions, the beer grains are also hydrolyzed with sulfuric acid. After such treatment, no extraneous microorganisms, which were in the waste, survive and do not interfere with growth of microscopic fungi sown on the substrate.
Technologists have also selected conditions for filtering the multiplying biomass of microorganisms from the nutrient medium. All the tests carried out showed that the resulting product is non-toxic, which means that it is possible to obtain a high-grade microbial protein from a mixture of oil paraffins, chicken manure and vegetable carbohydrate raw materials. Thus, at the same time, a way has been found for the effective utilization of manure, which is one of the main problems in the development of industrial poultry farming. It turned out an artificial “circulation of nutrients in nature” – that came from the stomach, it will return to him.
The next issue was that the proteins isolated from the fungi grown on the substrate and supplied to food plants called “biomass” were cleaned and deodorized, i.e. have no taste and smell, are colorless and are a powder, paste or viscous solution.
Hardly anyone wishing to use them in this form for food, despite all the dignity of the indicators of food and biological value. Therefore, in the first stage, the isolated tasteless proteins were simply added to traditional meat, and not only meat, products to enrich their amino acid composition.
Fillers are added to the fiber containing binders, food (amino acids, vitamins, fats, micro- and macro elements), flavoring, flavoring and coloring substances. The obtained fibers are grouped into bundles, formed into plates, cubes, pieces, pellets by pressing and sintering under heating.
According to the experience of the textile industry, the protein filaments obtained can be converted into a fiber-like food material that, after swelling in water and cutting into pieces, differs little from natural meat products, but is still different … It is impossible to forge the complex structure of a piece of meat.
But the production of meat for sausage products and products from minced use other technology to optimally cover forgery: a jellies obtained by heating the concentrated protein solutions, injected animals and hydrogenated vegetable oils, spices, synthetic flavorings, aroma substances and artificial colorants. Modern chemistry can create the taste and smell of any product, even experts indistinguishable from natural ones. The liquid mass is syringed into the sausage shell, boiled, fried and cooled. The analogue of ready-made sausage meat to taste, smell, appearance, structure is not at all different from the natural product.
An alternative to veganism?
Some people are afraid of the term “artificial” or “synthetic” meat, because in this case there are supposedly associations with something nylon or polyesterolovym. It should be noted that both the main components and all the fillers used in the production of meat products analogs are harmless and balanced by the ratio of various essential components of nutrition in accordance with physiological norms.
The creation of artificial food makes it possible to reduce and increase the production of food products with the existing agricultural base as a result of reducing losses and using non-food raw materials; to achieve the necessary level of food security, to solve the problem of child and therapeutic nutrition, nutrition in unusual conditions. The standard of raw materials, composition and structure of artificial food in industrial production allows to increase the level of automation, and the lack of enzymes and less favorable conditions for the development of microorganisms increase the shelf life. Artificial food is the real basis for solving the current world food problem and for the life support of the future of mankind.
In addition, a complete rejection of meat as a way of life of vegans can be transformed into a reasonable technological approach to overcome both the food crisis and ethical differences.