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Research Impact Highlights - Food

Recovering proteins from plant processing

Carlos Álvarez, Dilip Rai, Brijesh Tiwari and Shay Hannon (Food)

Research Impact Highlights in 2022

Plant-derived food processing generates enormous amounts of co-products. Most of these are rich sources of essential nutrients, such as proteins. Recovering such high-value proteins in a format usable by the food industry is desirable from an economic, environmental and sustainability perspective.

Teagasc’s patent to recover proteins from animal co-products caught the attention of Immcell Ltd., an Irish company seeking protein extraction technology. Funding from Enterprise Ireland enabled adaptation of the process for canola oil processing using leftovers from local suppliers, which was successfully scaled up and fully characterised. The technology was licensed to Immcell Ltd. in December 2022, after filing a new patent (WO2023017033).

This protein extraction technology optimised for canola material is adaptable to many other plant materials. It has short-term relevance at the national level by better utilising unused plant materials to create high-value food ingredients and supplements. Long-term, it could enable international market expansion and adoption in the food industry. Our technology makes crop processing more environmentally friendly and economically beneficial, positively impacting the food industry overall.

The inventors have highlighted the benefits of this novel process in several events to food companies, producers and pocessors.

Contact: carlos.alvarez@teagasc.ie
Other contributors: Enterprise Ireland, Immcell Ltd., Engage@Teagasc.
Funding: Enterprise Ireland.
Impact Pathway: Technology Development and Adoption; Capacity Building.

[pic credit] rezkrr/istock.com

Scalable process development of plant drinks

Shivani Pathania (Food)

Research Impact Highlights in 2022

The plant drink market has grown exponentially in recent years; products include cereal-based, pseudocereal-based, legume-based, seed-based and nut-based drinks.

Creating a successful plant-based drink brand can be challenging. A key challenge is finding the right combination of raw materials, additives, and manufacturing processes to create a beverage that tastes good and meets the functional requirements of consumers. Teagasc was approached by an Irish company to develop a scalable formulation and process to develop a drink from an Irish-grown crop.

The first phase of the project developed the product at lab-scale in the National Prepared Consumer Food Centre. The second phase included scalability and reproducibility studies of the formulation at pilot scale at Moorepark Technology Ltd. The formulation and process was transferred to a contract manufacturer and adapted accordingly.

The launch of this company saw the creation of four jobs in the local economy, providing employment opportunities and driving economic growth. Launching the plant drink formats in Ireland in Q2 2023 has the potential to meet consumer demand. Teagasc’s expertise in developing a scalable formulation and process and adapting it to existing manufacturing infrastructure ensures efficient production of high-quality consumer products.

Contact: shivani.pathania@teagasc.ie
Funding: Industry Contract research project, Enterprise Ireland co-fund Innovation Voucher.
Impact Pathway: Technology Development & Adoption.

[pic credit] Andrew Downes


Securing Irish dairy’s excellent reputation

Martin Danaher (Food)

EU legislation requires monitoring of chlorate residues in milk and dairy powders – arising from chlorine-based disinfectant use. Consequently, dairy ingredient manufacturers need a high-throughput sensitive test to ensure product quality adheres to infant formula specifications.

Following urgent requests, Teagasc developed a rapid, sensitive chlorates test at its ISO17025-accredited laboratories in Ashtown. Initially, the Ashtown laboratories were the sole Irish chlorate-testing service available for industry. However, increased demand presented an opportunity to transfer this technology to dairy testing laboratories. Teagasc supported the establishment of laboratories at three industry partners, resulting in eight new jobs and additional €1 million revenue to commercial laboratories. The reputation of Teagasc’s test development and personnel expertise, supported through its Technology Transfer Office, was key to ensuring successful industry engagement, allowing companies to promptly establish dedicated laboratories and begin testing with confidence.

The increased availability of sensitive testing in Ireland can improve the response from local dairy processors and suppliers; prompt identification of chlorate-contaminated milk reduces costly waste and contamination of infant formula. This is key to maintaining Irish dairy’s excellent reputation, while ensuring consumer safety – and Teagasc consultancy has been paramount in achieving this. Such significant impact was rewarded with the Industry Engagement Award at the 2022 Knowledge Transfer Ireland Impact Awards.

Contact: martin.danaher@teagasc.ie
Other contributors: Engage@Teagasc; Industry partners: Independent Milk Laboratory, FBA Laboratories and Kerry Agribusiness.
Funding: Teagasc.
Impact Pathway: Technology Development & Adoption; Capacity Building.