One of the aims of the SIMBA project is to commercialise new and cost-effective microbial applications that can be used at different stages and processes throughout the food chain. SIMBA project partner and coordinator Luke (Finland) are working to develop such applications, that will hopefully lead to better quality and more nutritious food for growing global populations.
By utilising specifically selected microbes during the processing stage, researchers in Luke are trying to reduce the amount of antinutrients in certain foods and, at the same time, add some beneficial nutrients like vitamins. Antinutrients, like tannins or saponins, are compounds found in foods which can block the absorption of nutrients in our bodies. It is hoped that the strategic application of microbes during the processing stage can improve the digestibility of foods such as beans, peas or lentils, ensuring all nutrients are taken up and also reducing anti-nutrient effects.
Luke are currently working to refine this fermentation-based process at lab scale. Starting with small quantities of cereals and pulses they can investigate the features of different microbes, how they function during processing and how they affect the end product. Some microbes will perform better than other under different conditions, so this optimisation stage is crucial for developing safe, healthy and cost-effective solutions for market.
When microbial starters have been fully investigated and optimised in the laboratory, they will start looking towards larger-scale food production. The pulses and cereals produced at the end of the process could be turned into ‘snack-bars’ for healthy food on the go or be eaten as part of a meal.
You can learn more about this work and the processes involved in a video produced by the Luke team here.