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EVALUATOR

EVALUation of heAlthy-susTainable fOod pRoteins
Funder: European CommissionProject code: 101062730 Call for proposal: HORIZON-MSCA-2021-PF-01
Funded under: HE | HORIZON-TMA-MSCA-PF-EF Funder Contribution: 203,464 EUR

EVALUATOR

Description

Access to healthy and sustainable foods is an existential priority as recognized by the UN, WHO, and EU. Replacing animal-based proteins with their plant-based counterparts is expected to be a major step forward, due to a 2-8 fold (depending on the species) increase in protein efficiency. In order to speed up this protein transition, methods need to become available to allow for high-throughput evaluation of protein ingredients, in terms of technical functionality that rules food properties, and physiological functionality that ultimately decides on effects taking place in the body. The EVALUATOR project focusses on plant protein properties in colloidal emulsion systems, for which a tailor-made microfluidic platform will be developed to dynamically assess technical emulsion stability and digestibility. For this, we choose to work with pea and bean proteins that are readily available at low cost within the EU. The microfluidic platform allows real-time investigation at micro and nanometre levels, the scales at which basic food structure elements are formed and degraded, and within very short time spans through high-speed recording, therewith closely mimicking the actual process conditions. EVALUATOR will not only lead to the design of healthier and greener food systems but also supply a versatile microfluidic platform that allows design from first principles, i.e., the actual protein properties as they are relevant for food production and digestion. This brings food design, that currently revolves around trial and error, into a completely different realm, and even more importantly, establishes the currently missing link between technological functionality and digestion. The key for success is the combination of my background in microfluidic design and digestion, that of the hosts in emulsions (WUR, The Netherlands) and the secondment (INRAE, France) in advanced digestive systems, which allows me to cover all aspects of the EVALUATOR project in a ground-breaking way.

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