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Fraunhofer predicts lupin seed success in low-fat sausages

By Ben Bouckley , 05-Jan-2011
Last updated on 05-Jan-2011 at 12:14 GMT2011-01-05T12:14:58Z

A new lupin seed-based protein isolate developed for use in low fat sauages could help cure the EU's obesity epidemic, according to researchers at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute.

Sausages contain particularly high fat levels, said the institute, with the average German alone consuming 31kg of sausage products per year: the upshot is an overweight population and cardiovascular disease.

“If some of the fat could be replaced with proteins derived from plants, everyone would benefit,” said Fraunhofer in a statement. “The consumer by eating less fat, the farmer through higher income, and the environment because plants can be produced more sustainably than meat.”

Fraunhofer's work on lupin seeds has led to the development of a new highly viscous protein isolate with a creamy consistency, designed for use as a fat replacer in sausages.

Developer Daniela Sussmann said sensory tests to see if lupin protein could improve juiciness and creaminess in a low-fat sausage recipe proved that adding 10% protein isolate “markedly improved the fat-like impression of low-fat liverwurst”.

“The microscopic structure of this product resembles that of the fat particles in sausage meat. So you can use it to produce low-fat sausage products that taste just as good as the original," she said.

Utilise more plant power

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation predicts that global meat production will double by 2050, leading to increased pressure on limited farmland resources.

Dr. Peter Eisner from the Fraunhofer Institute said: “Producing a kilogram of meat consumes between 7 and 16 kilograms of grain or soybeans as animal feed, and in the US around 80% of grain is fed to livestock.”

Eisner said that, whereas it takes 40m2 to produce 1kg of meat, the same area could yield, say, 120kg of carrots instead, where his institute is researching ways of using more plant components for food, cosmetics and and fuel applications.

“Plants are a source of high-quality foodstuffs, but they can also provide raw materials for technological applications – and are a source of energy.”

Fraunhofer has also developed a lactose-free lupin protein as a ‘milk replacer’ suitable for use in ice cream or cheese, and Eisner claimed it had a neutral flavour, is cholesterol-free and rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids.

'Grassy' taste of lupin isolates

2010 research published by Bader et al for the Fraunhofer Institute said there are several hundred species of lupin, while blue or narrow-leafed lupin has a protein content of around 30-40%, making its seeds particularly valuable for use in protein concentrates and isolates to replace milk or egg protein.

But according to the researchers, “One drawback of the application is the characteristic green, grassy and bean-like flavour of lupin protein isolates in concentrations higher than 1.5% [1,2].”

Accordingly, Bader and her team sought to characterise the techno-functional properties of a lupin protein isolate derived from blue lupin and the aroma compounds responsible for its flavour.

The team’s results showed that the LPI (lupin protein isolate) showed 90% protein solubility and emulsifying capacity of 710ml of oil per gram, while they hypothesised on how the flavour of LPI could be improved:

The bean-like flavour of lupin protein isolates seems to derive mainly from lipoxygenaseactivity and might be avoided by thermal inactivation.”

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