US startup Superbrewed Food (formerly White Dog Labs) has created an anaerobically fermented whole food protein made from microflora that converts plant starches into a nutrient-rich protein ingredient, which it is calling a postbiotic cultured protein.
According to a definition proposed by the International Scientific Association of Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP), published in 2021, a postbiotic is “a preparation of inanimate microorganisms and/or their components that confers a health benefit on the host”.
“Per this definition, our protein ingredient is exactly a postbiotic because Superbrewed postbiotic cultured protein is a whole food protein that delivers an excellent source of protein and essential vitamins and minerals,” says Dr Tracy, co-founder and CEO of Superbrewed Food.
A two-tablespoon serving provides over 100% of the Daily Value for B12, biotin and manganese and is a source of iron, riboflavin, zinc and selenium.
Inspiring the formulation of Superbrewed Food’s latest microbial protein ingredient was the “desire to offer a sustainable, whole-food ingredient that is also animal-free and has a low food allergen risk,” says Tracy.
The ingredient is more than 80% protein by weight. Superbrewed Food considers its latest ingredient a “high-quality protein” due to its rich amino acid content; the protein contains nine essential amino acids and more branched-chain and essential amino acids than plant-based proteins, the company states.
Superbrewed Food also says its new protein is a “whole food” because it is minimally processed to retain its natural nutrition beyond protein.
The nutrition company’s production process is “very efficient”, says Tracy, adding it achieves a nearly 50% weight conversion of sugars to products, making its ingredient scalable and affordable.
A microbiome-derived protein designed for nutrition & functionality
Superbrewed Food’s postbiotic cultured protein is designed to be a nutritional and functional food ingredient that delivers functionality in applications like alternative dairy, baked goods and snack foods to replace animal proteins, such as dairy or whey protein or other plant proteins such as soy or pea protein.
“Our ingredient has a neutral taste, natural white colour, excellent pH and temperature stability as well as good emulsification properties, so it is easy to formulate with,” says Dr Tracy.
Formulating its latest ingredient also saw the brand develop a protein that also has a low concern as an allergen and is a non-genetically modified organism (GMO).
Formulation process & protein processing techniques
The research and development (R&D) process focused on addressing the consumer drivers of a minimally processed, non-GMO, whole food ingredient. In creating the new ingredient, Superbrewed Food wanted a product that could deliver a superior protein source and added nutrition, such as the five B-vitamins and six essential minerals (excluding sodium) produced during the fermentation process.
During manufacturing, “production was influenced to maintain its versatility”, says Tracy. Superbrewed Food states its cultured postbiotic protein has good emulsification activity and stability, foaming capacity and stability, and oil binding capacity, as well as better shelf-life stability in formulated proteins than whey protein isolate.
“As an ingredient, it is versatile in terms of applications in foods,” says Tracy.
Superbrewed Foods has been partnering with food and beverage companies to develop animal-free products ranging from dairy and cheeses to baked goods and functional beverages.
GRAS status approved; Novel food application submitted for Europe
In May 2022, Superbrewed Food announced its proprietary postbiotic cultured protein had attained self-affirmed GRAS status. Superbrewed Food believes it is the first company to receive the self-affirmed status for a microbiome-derived protein, the company states.
Gaining GRAS status saw an independent panel of experts review Superbrewed Food’s safety dossier on its postbiotic cultured protein ingredient. Meeting the regulations set out by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the panel agreed that the data shows safety for consumption in a range of food applications and that the ingredient offers limited risk as a food allergen, the company states.
The protein needs to attain novel food approval in Europe and it is currently in the process of submitting its dossier of materials to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Once this is complete, it can be an 18-to-24-month approval process.
Superbrewed Food believes its new ingredient can enhance plant-based and precision proteins, making them more palatable, healthy, and affordable for a wider range of consumers.
“We are excited that our ingredient can stand alone, as well as complement plant-based and precision approaches, as our ingredient’s strengths supplement their weaknesses, which we will demonstrate in future disclosures,” says Tracy.