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Bread made from insect flour - animal protein source

Bread made from insect flour - animal protein source


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Food: flour from insects

While insects are hardly known as food in Europe, mealworms, grasshoppers, beetles and the like are regularly on the menu in many parts of the world. In Germany, many people reject unprocessed insects because of disgust. However, acceptance could increase if the animals are no longer recognizable, for example in the form of flour.

In our culture, eating insects has so far been rather unusual, but in some regions of Asia, Latin America and Africa, the consumption of small animals has long been widespread. At the beginning of 2018, the European Union introduced new legal regulations. Insects or products made from them, such as pasta or burgers, are already on the increase. But disgust dominates in many people. Such foods can be a good source of animal protein.

Animal protein requirements will double

According to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), global demand for animal proteins will double with population growth by 2050.

The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) explains in a recent announcement that even if there were still open agricultural areas, this need could not be met solely from meat from cattle breeding.

That is why KIT researchers are investigating the production of new alternative protein sources. Their goal: to develop flours from insect powder, which are suitable for bread making, for example.

Less pollution for the environment

In many cultures, such as parts of Asia or South Africa, insects are an integral part of the diet. In Europe, as foodstuffs, they have so far been a niche product. According to the KIT, the focus of industrial production is currently on mealworms (Tenebrio molitor), the larvae of which contain many proteins.

"Mealworms have the advantage over beef that they produce about half as much CO2 and therefore have less impact on the environment," explains Dr. Azad Emin, head of the junior research group “Extrusion of Biopolymers” in the Food Process Engineering (LVT) branch of the KIT Institute for Bio- and Food Technology.

Many consumers in this country still reject insects as unprocessed food - for example as a snack. However, initial studies show that acceptance is increasing for products in which the insects are no longer recognizable.

For powder processing, an introduction to the German market via traditional foods such as bread, which is still one of the main energy sources, is conceivable, explains Emin. "Wheat flour with insect components can fortify the staple food with proteins and thus also compensate for any deficits from other protein sources," says the process engineer.

Achieve high consumer acceptance

Food technicians use extrusion to process the insects - a process that has long been used to produce pasta or cereals, for example.

As explained in the communication, the addition of water creates a dough-like mass, which is first passed over screw shafts, heated and finally pressed through a nozzle. The dry mass is then ground.

In order to achieve a high level of consumer acceptance, the new flours should hardly differ in taste, baking properties and texture from conventional baking flours.

However, because the higher protein and fat content in insect flours leads to changes in the dough, the researchers at LVT are examining them for their physical and functional properties such as solubility, water retention or elasticity.

The aim is to use the extrusion process to specifically improve them so that they retain the desired properties of flour for baking.

Regional manufacturing and processing

"Another advantage of the process is the deactivation of enzymes and the reduction of microbial contaminants. In addition, digestibility could be improved, ”explains Emin.

Since little is known about the effects of extrusion conditions on the digestibility and bioavailability of the nutrients contained in insects, the scientists are now investigating these in detail in cooperation with the Max Rubner Institute.

According to the experts, the extrusion in connection with the opening up of new raw materials could also open up new perspectives for the traditional bakery trade, especially for small companies, also with a view to food trends. In addition, cooperation with local companies enables regional production and processing.

“In our further research, we want to check the applicability of the flours produced on a manual scale. In addition to shape and appearance, the texture properties should also be examined in external bread tests, ”says Emin.

"In addition, we want to conduct personal surveys," reports the scientist, emphasizing that the results obtained are important for the sustainable alternative development of food from insects. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


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