“The store shelves in Flanders and beyond often contain products that have been tested at Food Pilot, such as vegetarian snacks,” says food technologist and Food Pilot spokesperson Karen Verstraete. “We also help evaluate expiration dates, verify whether lactose-free products still contain traces of lactose or not, and so on.”
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Food Pilot expands its test facility in Melle (Flanders)
Another example of the kind of research carried out at Food Pilot: the test plant investigates how proteins can be processed into food products. “We work with classic protein sources such as soy and peas, but we are also exploring protein from algae, pumpkin seeds and microalgae,” explains Verstraete. “Through extrusion – the use of heat and pressure – it’s possible to give proteins a structure with fibers, so that the result looks just like chicken, for instance.”
“One of the new devices can perform extrusions of very small amounts of protein,” she adds. “This enables us to evaluate whether we can create a tasty product and whether it has ‘a good bite,’ so to speak.” The new devices can perform operations with quantities between 0.5 and 5 kg of product. This way, the Food Pilot researchers are meeting the specific demands of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Food companies can come to Food Pilot to try out new recipes and raw materials before producing them on a large scale. “In this respect, Food Pilot works with companies from Flanders as well as international businesses of all sizes: they know how and where to find us!” concludes Verstraete. “What’s more, these companies can get government support for their research projects at Food Pilot.”