Researchers improve protein quality of plant-based fortified drinks

Published: 3-Aug-2021

The study was done with Bio-K+, a Kerry subsidiary, and used a formulation comprising the company’s probiotic bacteria strains

A study recently published in the Journal of Food Science has demonstrated fermenting drinks fortified with pea and rice proteins yields the same quality of protein as casein, which is an animal protein found in milk.

The study was done with Kerry subsidiary Bio-K+, and used a formulation comprising the company’s Lactobacillus acidophilus CL1285, L. casei LBC80R and L. rhamnosus CLR2 bacteria. The probiotic strains were used in this study to develop the fermented drink fortified with pea and rice proteins. The strains’ probiotic functions have been verified and licensed by Health Canada, the company says.

The research team, led by Professor Monique Lacroix at the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), aimed to address the lower nutritional value of plant protein products when compared to dairy products, a more traditional area for manufacturers to look when incorporating probiotics.

Plant proteins pose some challenges, according to the team, including deficiency in essential amino acids and harder digestion. Using both pea and rice proteins reportedly had a complementary effect which helped address the amino acid deficiency. The researchers also added the pea and rice proteins prior to fermentation, which allowed the proteins to be predigested by lactic acid bacteria, creating easier to digest peptides, or protein fragments.

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