Beware more lupin proteins coming to a plate near you

With a rising global population and increasing prosperity expected to double our meat consumption by 2050, it is time to consider whether our planet can indeed provide these quantities, and if not, what can be done instead. 80% of US grain produced is fed to livestock.

To produce one kilo of meat takes 40 square metres of farmland where the same area can produce 120kg of carrots and 80kg of apples, meaning the production of plants is considerably less land-intensive.

For instance sunflower seeds are currently used for oil production and the residues are used as a low-grade animal feed, so a two and a half acre piece of land would yield 990 Euros in income. If the same produce was processed and converted to high-quality raw materials for food, cosmetic and fuel industries, the yield would rise to 1170 Euros.

Dr. –Ing. Peter Eisner of the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV in Freising, Germany, has been researching possible alternatives to raw materials derived from animals. Eisner has presented a milk subsitute from lupin proteins which can also be used as a basis for ice creams and cheeses. Its advantages are that it contains no lactose or cholesterol, has a neutral taste and is rich in polyunsaturated fats. IVV researcher Daniela Sussmann has developed a vegetable protein isolate out of lupin protein with a similarity in structure to sausage-meat fat. Taste tests have successfully shown that replacing 10% of the sausage-meat fat with the new protein derived from lupins improved the low-fat liverwurst consumed in Germany.

If this could be replicated it would mean that people would consume less animal fat, reducing cardiovascular diseases, obesity and meaning that farmers would get a higher income and the planet would benefit from producing more plants and less meat.

However, as peanut allergics will be all too aware, lupin often cross reacts with peanut and can pose as many dangers to peanut allergics as the peanuts themselves, so any increase the in the use of lupin as an ingredient in some of the ways suggested above could be disastrous as far as peanut allergics are concerned.

Source: Fraunhofer Institute

First published in January 2011


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