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Eco-Efficiency of Mealworm (Tenebrio molitor) Protein Extracts

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journal contribution
posted on 23.06.2022, 20:44 authored by Myriam Laroche, Véronique Perreault, Alice Marciniak, Sergey Mikhaylin, Alain Doyen
The potential of edible insects as a novel ingredient in high value-added products has been investigated to find alternatives to conventional protein sources. Low acceptability of entomophagy is the main challenge, but the development of insect protein-based food products could improve consumer perception. Nevertheless, while insect rearing has a low environmental impact, there are no studies on environmental performance related to the production of insect protein extracts. In this work, Tenebrio molitor (TM) protein extracts were produced by protein alkaline solubilization (one or two steps) with or without isoelectric precipitation, and the global warming potential (GWP) related to the different protein extracts was calculated. The optimal lipid extraction rate was 86.9% using a hexane: ethanol ratio of 1:2. Protein extraction and purification rates ranged from 54.7 to 94.4% and 80.0 to 49.4%, respectively. Depending on the protein purification and allocation method applied, the GWP of a TM protein extract was 3,050 to 10,871 kg CO2 eq. per ton of the extract produced. Eco-efficiency scores associated to TM proteins extracts were between those published with plant-based and animal-based protein sources, confirming the interesting environmental performance of insect-derived protein ingredients.

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