The ingredient that could make meat a whole lot healthier

American food science company Botaniline has created a way to reduce the calories, saturated fat and salt in processed meat.

30 July 2018

While people have been banging on about the plant-based movement, the fact is many people aren’t looking in the vegetable aisles for their food.

This is where American food science innovation company, Botaniline, comes in. It wants to help manufacturers create allergen-friendly and healthy alternatives to favourites like hot dogs and peanut butter by offering a line of natural, plant-based ingredients made with what it describes as breakthrough technology.

Botaniline’s CEO Mark Celmer said worldwide the vast majority of the population is eating too much salt and saturated fat, but while they know they need to cut back, they are not necessarily running to eat dark, leafy greens as they want foods that they know and which taste good.

At the same time, Celmer said food allergies are on the rise, pushing consumers to seek free-from products.

As a result, Botaniline has created technology that allows manufacturers to cut calories and saturated fat in popular products. Botaniline’s one-ingredient substitution allows processed meat and protein manufacturers to improve their existing recipes and eliminate all fillers, binders, allergens, and chemical additives.

Playing with potatoes

Botaniline began as a passion project in Buffalo, New York. As a food scientist, co-founder Dean O’Brien had always challenged himself to invent new ways to make products better and more efficiently.

While serving as VP of operations at Wardynski Meats, a meat manufacturer in the United States, O’Brien was responsible for new product development and technology.  That’s where he met co-founder Joe Lopez, and together – while processing sausage – they had an idea. The colleagues teamed up to create a replacement for all the fillers and binders they were currently using in Wardynski’s sausage.

The potato mixture they invented not only eased the processing formula by using fewer ingredients, but the sausage tasted the same, according to the company. With the elimination of the fillers and addition of a 100% all natural, vegetable-based ingredient, a healthier product was born. O’Brien realised they were onto something truly revolutionary and Botaniline was born.

This new ingredient allows manufacturers to cut calories and saturated fat in processed meats by 30 to 50% and lower salt content by 25 to 95% simply by swapping out a percentage of the protein for potatoes that are boiled at a specific temperature for a set time, then are cut and flash frozen.

In addition, manufacturers will achieve over a 120-day shelf life on their cooked or smoked products and 15 days on uncooked fresh meats like ground beef.

Saving saturated fat and money

So how do these magic potatoes work?

Once the potato ingredient is introduced to the protein in products like hot dogs, sausages, meat balls, pepperoni or other processed meats, three chemical reactions occur.

“First of all it synthesises when it is ground meaning it disappears, meaning you can’t see it, you can’t taste it, you can’t smell it,” said Celmer.

This means the reformulated product appears indistinguishable from the original.

“Second, every protein has a certain functional requirement for sodium in order to bind, but the catalyst process of our technology magnifies or accelerates the functionality of the sodium to that protein so the amount of added salt becomes unnecessary for the most part,” Celmer said.

Thirdly, the ingredient serves as a peptide that chemically holds several times its weight, which means it can replace other binders and fillers, such as soy or MSG, which are ingredients many modern consumers are avoiding, Celmer added.

One drawback of the potato substitute is it will result in a lower protein level per serving – just as consumers are looking for higher protein products. But Celmer said this trade-off is insignificant compared to the benefit of lowering calories, saturated fat and salt, as well as the advantage that potatoes can beef up the amount of potassium and other vitamins in a product.

Celmer is confident that in five years the company will be sitting on a £150 million ingredient that will save manufacturers £300 million.

Allergy free spreads and more

Pea-Nutless Butter is another ingredient the company has developed, which is plant-based and allergen friendly.

The spread is made from five ingredients – pea, two oils, an emulsifier to hold the oil together and sugar.

“We have an opportunity to revolutionise the food industry by creating allergen-free versions of popular foods that consumers eat regularly,” another Botaniline co-founder Skip Wardynski said.

But the company isn’t stopping there. Five more inventions are currently being tested and will revealed over the next six to 18 months.

This includes plans to launch a Jamaican jerk plant-based meat – with a technology it has been working on for the last five years.

Botaniline’s mission is to improve worldwide health directly, Celmer commented.

“The food that we eat directly impacts our health – increasing or decreasing the likelihood of hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and so many other conditions and diseases,” he said.

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