Food Scientists Awarded GFI Grant to Make Plant Protein Look and Feel More Like Whole Meat

Professor McClements
University of Massachusetts

Food scientists from the University of Massachusetts have received a grant from the Good Food Institute to develop alternatives to whole chicken, pork and beef using plant proteins. The team is led by Professor of Food Science David Julian McClements, well-known for his cutting-edge work in food design and nanotechnology.

As we reported at the end of March, the GFI’s competitive research grant program offered grantsto the sum of $4 million to support 21 research teams aiming to improve the sensory qualities, cost and profitability of alternative proteins. The team of scientists at University of Massachusetts will receive $200,000 over two years.

Professor McClements’ team, specialising in taste physiology and sensory science, gut health, food processing and plant-based meat product development, includes: Amanda Kinchla, extension associate professor; Jiakai Lu, assistant professor; Alissa Nolden, assistant professor; David Sela, associate professor; and Hang Xiao, professor and Clydesdale Scholar.

“This grant will allow us to explore the use of applied nanotechnology and structural design to create molecular architectures from plant proteins that resemble those in meat,” McClements states. “In particular, we aim to simulate the properties of whole chicken, pork or beef – rather than burgers, sausages or nuggets that exist already.”

The team will work towards developing fiber-like structures from plant proteins to improve the texture of plant-based meat. “This would advance our technological ability to create meat-like fibers without the process of extrusion,” says McClements in the university’s press release.