MycoTechnology, a Colorado-based company which has developed a pioneering food processing platform using mushroom mycelium, has done just that, and is unveiling a new product dubbed PureTaste at the Supply Side West trade show this week, which it claims could prove a game-changer in the so-called ‘alternative proteins’ market.
Unlike some other novel proteins manufactured in tanks via a fermentation process, PureTaste, a “neutral-tasting” spray-dried powder containing 79%+ protein by dry weight, does not use genetically engineered yeasts or other micro-organisms, but uses naturally occurring mycelium from an heirloom variety of Shiitake mushroom.
When fed the right feedstock, the mycelium produce a protein that works well in everything from pastas and breads and tortillas, to sauces, soups, shakes, bars, beverages, dressings, and meat-substitutes, claims MycoTechnology marketing manager Josh Hahn.
“Typically when you’re trying to produce protein using single-celled micro-organisms is that as you scale up you can’t get the yields up to a point where it makes any economic sense, but we’ve discovered how to solve this problem.”
PureTaste has a very neutral taste and aroma
He would not say what the feedstock is, but said it contained “carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and some other micronutrients.”
When sufficient quantities of protein have been manufactured, the whole mixture (mycelium and feedstock) is harvested and then spray-dried into a fine protein-rich powder.
“What’s really nice about it is that it has a very neutral taste and aroma, which is really important to food companies, which are using soy and pea and other plant-based proteins but are not satisfied with the taste. It’s also a complete protein, but it’s not a concentrate or an isolate, and the protein content is a lot higher than, say, Quorn [another protein manufactured via a single-celled micro-organism]."
We can produce protein at scale with a very low carbon footprint
In the short term, MycoTechnology is working with a third party toller to manufacture PureTaste on a commercial scale, and says the price will be a bit cheaper than whey protein but a bit higher than plant-based proteins such as pea, but said this was warranted because it had a superior nutritional profile and organoleptic qualities.
Feedback to date had been extremely positive, said Hahn.
“The big thing is the flavor as well as the sustainability aspect. We can produce protein at scale with a very low carbon footprint. From start to finish it only takes 60 hours to produce, and we’re not using pesticides and all that land. We also reclaim water. Compare that to what’s needed for growing crops or producing meat.”
According to MycoTechnology, PureTaste protein can be labeled as 'Shiitake mushroom,' 'fermented shiitake' or 'shiitake extract' on the ingredients list, in accordance with 21 C.F.R. § 101.36(d).
As for safety, it said: "Shiitake mushrooms have been widely consumed all around the world for thousands of years and have already received their GRAS status. Although it is not required, we are currently going through the voluntary GRAS notification process, but our customer can enjoy using PureTaste today."
Asked about allergenicity, the company noted that many proteins can produce allergic responses in humans, including mushroom protein, in which spores are thought to be responsible. However, the shiitake mushroom mycelium MycoTech is using to produce PureTaste are non-sporulating (they don’t produce spores), says the company: “From all the literature that we’ve read, there are no reports of any allergic reactions happening from the mycelium.”
Visit the MycoTechnology booth (H105) at Supply Side West to find out more.