11 Aug 2022 — The use of precision fermentation is growing more prevalent, as researchers are continuously scaling its potential to create classic animal-based products without the animal. In this process, microbes are harnessed to act as microscopic “factories” that produce food ingredients, like cowless casein.
This emergent technology has evidently forged a whole new food category of its own, with authentic cheese, ice cream, milk and coloring agents, building upon its growing roster of innovative applications.
Among the latest moves, Infinome Biosciences and Kalsec, a global producer of natural spice and herb extracts, have linked up to develop and commercialize multiple ingredient-producing microbes to be used in precision fermentation processes.
Next generation of microbial ingredients
Infinome’s GenoScaler is a proprietary, ultra-high-throughput, CRISPR-enabled strain engineering platform designed to rapidly optimize microbial strains with vastly improved traits and productivities. It will employ GenoScaler to develop ingredient-producing bacterial strains and provide Kalsec with these ingredients to validate their performance in food applications.
“The lens used to select projects include sustainability, efficiency, and enabling the use of more natural products through new production practices. We have already embraced using Infinome’s ground-breaking technology to develop more products in our pipeline to deliver sustainable improvements for our customers,” comments Dr. Scott Nykaza, Kalsec CEO.
Working with their customers, the development team at Kalsec has identified “multiple large product opportunities,” the company shares. R&D teams at Infinome will work with Kalsec to develop sustainable biomanufacturing processes through accelerated strain engineering and process development.
“Infinome’s GenoScaler is a complete, end-to-end microbial manufacturing platform based on several breakthrough technology developments,” comments Dr. Richard Fox, Infinome co-founder and CEO/CTO.
“Our goal at Infinome is to enable more companies to access the bioeconomy by accelerating the development and reducing the risk and complexity of biomanufacturing.”
As a preservation specialist, Kalsec has had a long history of delving into the activities of microbes across broad food applications. Its latest product launch blends traditional antioxidant products – like rosemary and acerola extracts – with natural antimicrobial solutions, such as cultured dextrose and buffered vinegar. The 2-in-1 solution is branded DuraShield Antimicrobial Natural Food Protection Blends.
Cow cheese without the cow
While popular vegan cheese brands rely on starches, soy and nuts, New Culture is combining traditional cheesemaking and precision fermentation to make animal-free cheese containing authentic dairy casein. The San Francisco start-up’s first culinary events featuring its creamy, stretchy, melty mozzarella will be unveiled later this year.
Unlike conventional dairy cheese, New Culture’s is completely free of animal inputs, lactose, cholesterol, trace hormones and antibiotics, and significantly cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions and land and water use. In addition, it offers the same nutritional content as its animal-based counterpart.
Fooditive, which recently debuted an alternative milk containing the minimal carbon footprint ingredient.New Culture joins a growing body of emergent companies harnessing precision fermentation to create animal-free casein, such as
With their animal-free casein in-hand, the company then uses traditional cheesemaking by adding water, plant-based fats, salt, a touch of sugar, vitamins and minerals. Made with the same ingredients as conventional mozzarella, New Culture’s animal-free version is designed to melt in any oven, bubbles and browns on pizza, and stretches when pulled.
Precision fermentation attracts new players
In a life cycle assessment by Perfect Day, precision fermentation processes may use up to 99% less water while producing up to 97% fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional production methods. The company harnesses fungi in bioreactors to create its fermentation-based limited edition ice creams.
Last month, animal-free dairy creator Remilk obtained a self-affirmed GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status, in accordance with US Food and Drug Administration requirements, paving the way for “non-animal, real-dairy” products based on precision fermentation in the US.
In another ingredient category, Israeli biotechnology start-up Phytolon is taking food coloring to the next level by leveraging a novel technology to produce natural pigments via the precision fermentation of yeast. Last month, it secured US$14.5 million in funding, led by DSM Venturing.
By Benjamin Ferrer
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