Making Chicken-Free Egg Whites

Making Chicken-Free Egg Whites ...

Cellular agriculture is a way of producing animal-derived goods without the need for animals, which might be beneficial for the environment than conventional farming. Traditionally, cell culture is used to produce meat and human milk, with cell-cultured seafood also being on the menu. Additionally, precision fermentation may be used to produce animal protein from microorganisms, such as the cows milk proteins casein and whey.

Global egg production has almost doubled in the last 20 years, and cellular agriculture may provide an alternative to the consumer''s demands. Onego Bio has recently received funding to commercialize their precision fermentation technology for egg white without chickens.

Bioalbumen, a chicken-free egg white protein, has the potential to be a protein supplement in confectionery or baking or.

Maija Itkonen, the CEO of Onego Bio, spoke to us to discuss the nature of bioalbumen''s research.

Katie Brighton (KB): Can you explain the principles of cell agriculture? How does it work? What implications might it have on food production?

Cellular agriculture is a way to expand common food production methods. The end products are often the same, and the only difference is in how they are made. Cellular agriculture is primarily based on the use of cellular organisms and bioreactors instead of traditional agricultural systems to develop food ingredients. The aim of cellular agriculture is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, land and water use.

What advantages do using cell agriculture have over traditional farming, mainly for producing egg white?

MI: A retrospective life cycle study was conceived to investigate the impacts of Trichoderma-derived ovalbumin (Tr-OVA) production with an equivalent functional unit of dried chicken egg white protein. Tr-OVA production demonstrated the potential to minimize many agriculture-related impacts, such as global warming and land use. Switching Tr-OVA production location and using low-carbon energy sources might further reduce environmental impacts.

How did Onego Bio initially approach producing bioalbumen?

MI: VTT is a collaboration network, where the teams have studied the possibility of producing animal proteins with cell agriculture for the last six or seven years. Trichoderma research has a long history at VTT.

The project has been integrated into Finnish VTT''s LaunchPad before becoming a spin-off company. VTT LaunchPad is a science-based spin-off incubator, where VTT researchers and technology are combined with the best business minds and investors there to revitalize industries. VTT LaunchPad is a nonprofit organization that helps incubator teams develop VTT''s ownership IPR into fundable spin-off businesses.

What were the most significant assumptions that led to the use of fermentation to produce bioalbumen?

MI: From the start, precision fermentation was a natural choice for this technology. It is a technology that allows cellular organisms to produce complex organic molecules, such as proteins. The method is possible as a comparison to beer production, in which microflora is fed sugar to produce alcohol.

Bioalbumen''s bioalbumen compares to animal-derived egg white in terms of flavour, texture, cost, etc.?

MI: The protein itself is identical, and therefore the flavor, texture, and methods of use it are identical.

We are still at the laboratory level, but when we move into industrial production, we anticipate a cost that is identical or even lower than an animal-derived egg white.

What are the next steps before bioalbumen can be delivered on the market, according to KB? What are the challenges that are associated with this process?

MI: Every novel product must pass the regulatory process that is designed to protect individuals. Depending on the market, it may still take months to years to have the commercial approval for the product. However, we are confident that bioalbumen is a known protein that is made with a known process, but the combination of product and process is just new.

Is there any additional animal-free protein you intend to develop next?

MI: At the moment, we are totally focused on bioalbumen!

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