Protein is known as the “foundation of life”. Where there is life, there is protein, which is the most important nutrient in human food. According to the source of protein, the existing artificial protein food is mainly divided into three categories: plant protein food, microbial protein food and animal cell culture meat. The first kind uses soybean, pea, wheat and other plant proteins as raw materials to make meat, eggs, milk and other products. The second kind of protein is synthesized by microorganism such as yeast, which is thousands of times more efficient than traditional aquaculture. The third kind uses stem cell technology, using the cell culture of cattle, chicken and other animals to obtain cell culture meat.
“can I eat?” involves food safety.
The main food safety risks in traditional meat production are the spread of epidemic disease in the process of animal breeding, excessive use of antibiotics and so on. The above three types of artificial protein foods do not need to raise complete live animals, which avoids these risks from the mode of production. Of course, other risks also need to be wary of, such as plant meat is often overprocessed, does not taste enough sauce to make up, and is high in salt, which is bad for cardiovascular health. But generally speaking, the safety of “artificial meat” can be controlled as long as it is produced in accordance with the relevant food standards.
“is it good?” is related to nutritional flavor.
At present, the “artificial meat” that can be bought in the supermarket is mainly “plant meat”. Some people ask, isn’t this traditional food? Indeed, the Chinese have a long history of making vegetarian chicken geese with bean products. But compared with animal meat, plant meat lacks vitamin B12, nMel 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, iron, zinc and other nutrients. Modern industrial production of plant meat products, will add synthetic biological technology to improve the quality of key substances, such as hemoglobin, glutamine transaminase, vitamins, etc., but also through physical processing to change the spherical structure of plant protein, to produce silk drawing protein similar to real meat fiber, so that plant meat has the texture, chewiness and flavor of animal meat. Microbial fermented protein and animal cell cultured meat have more advantages in nutrition, such as yeast protein contains all essential amino acids, belongs to full-valent protein, can meet the nutritional needs of the human body.
“when to get it” depends on the cost of production.
The research and development of “artificial protein” new food is mainly for the consideration of sustainable development. The mass production of high-quality protein by plant, microorganism and animal cell culture can significantly reduce land resource dependence and carbon emissions, and reduce the pressure of environmental resources brought by traditional aquaculture. In theory, high output and low resource consumption mean low production cost, and artificial protein food should be of high quality and low price in order to be widely accepted by the public. However, at present, the prices of three types of artificial protein foods in the world are more expensive than those of traditional similar foods, among which cell culture meat is the most expensive. This shows that there is still a lot of room for research and improvement in the production technology of artificial protein food.
The research of synthetic biology in China is mainly concentrated in the field of medicine and chemical production, the basic and applied research of synthetic biology in food field started relatively late, but also achieved some gratifying results. Last year, the Chinese scientific research team achieved one-step industrial biosynthesis from carbon monoxide to protein for the first time in the world, and has a production capacity of 10,000 tons, and the produced Clostridium ethanolum protein can be used as feed raw material for the aquaculture industry.
In short, we look forward to the development of large-scale, low-cost, sustainable and high-quality protein production in China. It is necessary not only to ensure national food safety in terms of quantity, but also to improve function and nutrition in quality, so as to make artificial protein food safe, nutritious, tasty and cheap, so as to meet the needs of the people for a better life.