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London based Hoxton Farms has raised £2.7 million ($3.7 million USD) to develop lab-grown animal fat. The primary market for the product is plant-based meat alternatives, which co-founder Ed Steele says still aren’t good enough. “They don’t taste right and they aren’t healthy," says Steele. "They are missing the key ingredient: fat.” Companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods currently use canola oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil for fattiness in their products, but it does not taste or perform the same as animal fat. Hoxton Farms extracts fat cells from living animals without harming them, then cultures the cells in a bioreactor to create fat that is identical to animal fat. The company aims to have a scalable prototype available within 12 to 18 months.
In two studies, University of Copenhagen food scientists and computer scientists used artificial intelligence to examine taste perception among 152 Danish and Chinese study participants. Taste perception is related to the number of tastebuds (papillae) on the tongue, and papillae are usually counted manually. To improve accuracy, researchers developed an algorithm and used image recognition to map and count the papillae. Results revealed that Chinese subjects had more tastebuds and were more sensitive to bitter tastes. The scientists did not attempt to explain why more Danes tend to enjoy smørrebrød and black licorice than Chinese people do.
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The U.S. maker of JUST Mayo and JUST Egg received approval from the Singapore Food Agency to sell the world's first cultured meat. The lab grown meat, known as GOOD chicken, was recently served at 1880, a tony restaurant in Singapore's entertainment center. Daring diners enjoyed the cultured chicken in bao buns, in phyllo, and on a spicy waffle. GOOD Chicken is made by mixing poultry cells with the same nutrients used for growth by live animals, including amino acids, carbohydrates, minerals, fats and vitamins. According to Eat Just CEO Josh Tetrick, the poultry cells can be grown into meat in a bioreactor in just 14 days. Tetrick is seeking regulatory approval for cultured meat in other countries, including the US, and hopes that the stringent approval process and criteria developed in Singapore serve as a model.
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Scientists estimate that the human nose can distinguish up to a trillion different odors. But our vocabulary for describing them is far more limited. Harold McGee sticks his nose into the issue in his latest book, Nose Dive: A Field Guide To The World's Smells. McGee describes the aromas and chemical components in everything from oranges to compost and engine oil to sewage. He also elucidates the elusive olfactory workings of truffles, wood smoke, and whisky. Nose Dive is well organized into chapters focusing on smells in the atmosphere as well as in animals, humans, plants, herbs, spices, vegetables, fruits, fungi, fish, and seaweed. Cooking, curing, fermentation, and decay also get special attention. Another scientific estimate: about 80% of what we call flavor actually consists of aroma. If you ever sipped a glass of wine then stumbled to describe it, this book will give you the words.
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The official shelf life of a Twinkie is 45 days. But many folks assume the confection is so highly processed that it will last forever. That's what Colin Purrington thought when he bought a box of Twinkies in 2012 after hearing that Hostess Brands may retire the iconic treat. Eight years later, some of Colin's Twinkies molded over inside the plastic, while others remained relatively fresh and edible. In the interest of science, he sent them to a lab for analysis. Here's what the fungi specialists told him.
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Israeli startup DouxMatok has developed a restructured form of real sugar that tastes 40% sweeter. Called Incredo, the product consists of sucrose mixed with naturally occurring silica, which exposes more surface area of the sucrose to saliva, increasing the perception of sweetness. Silica also restructures the atoms in each sucrose molecule from a typical orderly lattice to a random “amorphous” structure, causing the sugar to dissolve faster on the tongue and deliver more intense sweetness. Later this year, Incredo enters production with Südzucker, Europe’s biggest sugar producer, as well as with a leading refined sugar distributor in North America.