MU Researchers Create New Meat Substitute

7 years 10 months 2 weeks ago Wednesday, July 07 2010 Jul 7, 2010 Wednesday, July 07, 2010 11:13:17 AM CDT July 07, 2010 in News

To make the product, researchers first add water to the mixture of ingredients.  They then put the mixture into the food processor for about a minute.  The last step is to add a few final touches for visual appeal and flavoring. 

Harold Huff, a biological engineering researcher, says there isn't much to the process.

"What we do is nothing more than blending it with water and heating it," Huff said.

He thinks this will help the product sell because several people look to buy products that aren't highly processed.

Katie Thorn is one of those consumers.

"If you can't understand what's written on the nutritional info, if you can't pronounce the words, I'd say it's something to stay away from," Thorn said.

Huff says texture is the most important factor they considered when making the chicken substitute.

"From a vegan or vegetarian standpoint, the flavor is not nearly as important to them, but to us, one of our main goals was to make a product that could be flavored and taste and feel in the mouth like chicken," Huff said.

Huff has been at the MU since 1969.  He says he's worked on the project for about 20 years, and he's had help from various students.

Huff says the product has several health benefits, like added protein.

"This is essentially a no cholesteral product.  It's just almost the most perfect digestible protein," Huff said.

Researchers have prepared the chicken into several dishes, such as steamed chicken breast, chicken salad, BBQ chicken, fajitas, garlic chicken, and oriental-type dishes.

Huff says one advantage to using a chicken substitute instead of real chicken is it could be stored at room temperature instead of in the refrigerator.

It also has some environmental benefits.

"It takes so many pounds of grain to produce a pound of beef, chicken, or pork, and it may be a much better conversion ratio," Huff said.

Although there are many benefits to the product, Peter Holmes, a vegan, is skeptical.

"I don't have any interest in having something that looks like and smells like a chicken.  I don't know what the point of that is," Holmes said.

Huff hopes the product will be on the market soon.

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