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Figure 1: Bioengineers have found a way to make artificial ice cream in the laboratory
In hot summer, we can enjoy the cool of ice cream. With ice cream, summer is complete.
Is ice cream closely related to climate warming?
Ice cream is a kind of frozen food made from drinking water, milk, butter (or vegetable oil) and sugar by mixing, sterilizing, homogenizing, aging, freezing and hardening with appropriate food additives.
Because of its pleasant taste and delicious taste, ice cream can not only help people cool down and relieve heat, provide moisture, but also supplement many nutrients, such as high-quality protein, sugar and fat. In addition, it also contains amino acids and calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, chlorine, sulfur, iron and so on.
The main ingredient of ice cream is milk, but scientists have found that cows are one of the main causes of global warming. Dairy cows and other ruminants release methane into the atmosphere through intestinal fermentation, and methane is one of the most important greenhouse gases at present. The warming effect is 21 times that of carbon dioxide.
Although the global warming, dairy cows can not be blamed, but we can not but drink milk, do not eat ice cream bar! Fortunately, two entrepreneurs in California have brought us new hope. They have found a way to make artificial ice cream.
They are Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi, who call themselves vegan bioengineers. They want to create ice cream that is identical to milk, reduce animal suffering by steering us away from factory farming, and help fight global warming by reducing the number of cows that produce methane and the land needed for grazing.
Figure 2: Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi, co-founders of PerfectDay, a biotechnology startup
We both happen to have similar medical backgrounds, and at present pharmaceuticals are basically made by fermentation, Pandia said in an interview. So the two of us want to know if we can use this technology, which has existed for half a century, to make the most popular and high-quality protein in the world?
What are synthetic dairy products?
In fact, as early as 1931, Winston Churchill, then British Prime Minister, predicted the rise of synthetic food. He said: In order to eat chicken breast or chicken wings, we should cultivate these parts of chicken separately on the appropriate medium, so as to avoid the cost of raising the whole chicken to eat chicken breast or chicken wings. Of course, synthetic foods will also be used in the future.
Although nearly 90 years have passed, Churchills prediction has finally come true on meat and dairy proteins. Pandia and Gandhi founded PerfectDay, a biotechnology startup in the Gulf of California. After five years of efforts, they finally manually created proteins found in traditional milk without using animals.
The company uses genetically modified yeast instead of milk to produce whey and casein, the most important nutrients in ice cream, through fermentation. In fact, there is nothing dairy cows can do to make this new snack. Yeast is used to produce fermentation by-products in controlled environments. Researchers use different yeasts to achieve different purposes and yields during the production of whey protein and casein.
Figure 3: PerfectDays ice cream made from synthetic protein has the same taste and texture as cream ice cream.
PerfectDay uses DNA to modify yeast to produce casein and whey protein, which are identical to proteins found in dairy products. Traditional milk contains about 3.3% protein, of which 82% is casein and 18% is whey protein. In addition, the other main components of milk are water, fat and carbohydrates.
PerfectDays technology can transform a small portion of milk protein, which can be said to be the most important ingredient in the production of other foods. The company claims that its dairy protein is vegetarian and lactose-free, while providing the same high-quality nutrition as traditional dairy protein.
This not only avoids the environmental burden of cattle raising, but also provides the same nutrition and protein as dairy products in taste and texture. Combined with the fat and sugar extracted from plants, it is possible to make products that are no different from real cream ice cream. We can use this protein to produce products that fully meet peoples needs for dairy experience, taste and flavor, but it has no shortcomings of milk, Pandia said.
There are many milk-free ice creams on the market today, with raw materials ranging from oats to almonds to chickpeas, but they are usually not as smooth as traditional ice creams. Some lucky people have tried PerfectDays ice cream, which tastes almost the same as ice cream made with milk.
PerfectDay uses genetically modified yeast to produce these proteins, similar to the way artificial meat is grown in the laboratory. Artificial meat needs to get starter cells from real animals, then place them in growth media and allow them to reproduce in the laboratory. You get real animal tissue, but you dont need to kill animals.
PerfectDays approach goes one step further: it absolutely doesnt need anything from real animals, not even a cell, and it certainly appeals to vegetarians. The two founders claim that their method of whey production consumes 98% less water and 65% less energy than the traditional method of protein production.
So far, PerfectDay has only supplied a limited number of new products for its synthetic protein production. Last week, the company sold samples to its first 1,000 customers through its website. Despite the high price, these products soon sold out.
Cooperating with Agricultural Giants to Enter the Mainstream
Pandia and Gandhi also pointed out that their methods of making nutritious and delicious proteins could also be applied to other products, including areas where bad weather makes dairy farming difficult. We are building partnerships with governments and non-profit organizations around the world who believe PerfectDays approach is the best way to provide environmental sustainability and affordable protein for malnourished people, their website says.
PerfectDay is currently working to become an animal-free protein supplier to large food manufacturers, hoping that this will help bring this ingredient into the mainstream market. The company has partnered with agricultural giants such as ADM, which has secured about $60 million in venture capital from ADM. ADM is one of the worlds largest agricultural processors and food ingredients suppliers, with more than 330 production facilities in nearly 200 countries and regions. ADM provides a lot of raw materials for human and animal. Synthetic dairy protein may be the perfect complement to their products.
It would be wise for big food manufacturers to get involved in this area. After all, the market for dairy substitutes in the United States (including ice cream without dairy products) is growing rapidly, just like the market for meat substitutes. PerfectDays goal is to work with large manufacturers, reflecting the strategy favored by startups such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, which work with Burger King and Tyson respectively. These big companies dont agree with vegetarian values, but they have mainstream prestige that can help start-ups like PerfectDay scale up and enter the market faster. PerfectDays products can be produced anywhere, and the company hopes to help provide protein to areas that cannot support animal husbandry because of bad weather. We need to be more prepared if the current climate does not support the worldwide supply of dairy products, Pandia said. The companys animal-free dairy products will compete in cost with dairy products. We can do more with less money, not only because its cheaper, but also because its more environmentally friendly, he said.
If large animals are not needed, the resources needed will be reduced. Gandhi said: When we put into full production, our production process will actually make our products more affordable. Ultimately, this is part of our vision: we need people around the world to support it and make it the most affordable source of nutrition in the world.
Pandia said last year, We are beginning to study how to use the proteins we create to prevent maldevelopment and malnutrition in developing countries. This suggests that PerfectDays focus is on raw materials, not milk production.
The future continues to face challenges
Of course, it may be difficult to produce full-fat milk that tastes and textures similar to milk. After all, protein is only one part of liquid milk, and other ingredients include milk fat, which may be the most difficult component to imitate in plant substitutes. When drinking milk, the structure of milk fat provides a special taste and taste, which may be more difficult than adding protein to cheese or yogurt.
PerfectDay initially focused on liquid milk (the kind we drink), but the company has shifted its focus to processed products. After all, products like yogurt and cheese, unlike liquid milk, may be better suited to use laboratory-grown caseins and whey proteins, and synthetic proteins can be used to replace or supplement milk ingredients.
For example, in yogurt production, protein is often added to improve the taste, and different processed products contain different proportion of milk ingredients. This means that fermented casein and whey protein can increase or replace traditional protein components, which is easier to achieve in products containing high protein components.
Nevertheless, the potential use of animal-free dairy protein goes far beyond traditional dairy products such as cheese and yogurt. Hot dogs with milk powder and granola rolls with genetically modified milk ingredients are examples of many foods that can use this alternative to dairy protein.
However, some products are not suitable for this method. Butter, for example, is made from butter and contains almost no protein. For a long time, we have always replaced butter with vegetable substitutes, that is, margarine. But many consumers no longer use margarine, but re-use real butter.
Although it remains to be seen whether these fermented proteins can be produced on a large scale, their entry into the market may have a significant impact on the dairy industry. Part of the reason is that some processed products are separated from traditional dairy products. The supply chain can also be disrupted by changes in the relative demand for protein and other milk ingredients.
Before these products enter our supermarket, there are many problems to be solved. Production economics must work. Products need to be reformulated and fermented proteins and other ingredients are added to replace milk ingredients.
At present, regulators all over the world have identified milk-derived automata. Does the synthesis of casein and whey protein need to follow the same law? The regulatory environment will need to be clarified, as any change will trigger intense debate among stakeholders.
However, many consumers will attach great importance to the fact that the production of these proteins does not require animal participation, and can create vegetarian, lactose-free products. It is also believed that synthetic dairy protein has less impact on the environment. Other consumers may worry that these proteins are produced by genetically modified yeast. Despite these uncertainties, we may see synthetic dairy products on the shelves of grocery stores in a few years.
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Source: Editor in charge of knowledge: Qiao Junjing_NBJ11279