Fermentation and sustainability: Synthetic biology poised to bring us dairy-free milk and cheese that taste like the real thing

Vegan cheese made with fermentation. Credit: The Spoon
Vegan cheese made with fermentation. Credit: The Spoon

Fermentation​ is a type of biotechnology that uses microorganisms to create a chemical change that can produce food additives and animal feed.

Fermentation can offer a number of benefits for food producers—including sustainability, health and product performance.

Talking about how fermentation delivers on these, [FoodBytes!’s Lindsay McCorkle said,] “Most of these processes require even less resource use than plant-based options—they don’t require extensive use of farmland or water, and energy use is relatively low.”

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Product functionality may also significantly improve thanks to fermentation. Alternative milk, for example, is tipped as having an identical mouthfeel to a dairy product without added emulsifiers. Fermented cheese is also garnering appeal, as it can melt and move in the same way as a dairy version does.

Related article:  'Blissfully unaware’: Many food manufacturers don’t realize new GM labeling law applies to them and are unprepared for end-of-year deadline
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Fermentation technology has the potential to create a variety of components. McCorkle detailed that the long list includes whole products like chicken breast imitation by air-based meat innovator AirProtein and alternative cheese producer Superbrewed Food, “but also important ingredients like fats, flavours and food colourings”​.

Credit: Michroma

Advancements in synthetic biology (synbio) technology like CRISPR (​clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat)​ ​are contributing to the world’s findings into new fungal species and helping them to develop novel industrial strains.

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