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Fast and automated N/protein analysis of plant-based protein food

September 4, 2023

Elementar Americas is offering its Application Note, Fast and automated N/protein analysis of plant-based protein food, which details data results for nitrogen analysis on various plant-based samples. Accurate and reproducible nitrogen/protein analysis plays an important role throughout the plant-based nutrition supply chain, where research, development, and production are in full swing.

With an anticipated doubling of the global plant-based food market by 2030, this evolving landscape brings to the forefront the need for accurate protein determination from raw ingredients to end products.

Elementar’s rapid MAX N exceed nitrogen and protein analyzer was used to conduct comprehensive N/protein analyses on various plant-based protein powders as well as milk, sausage, and burger analogues from different protein sources; each sample was analyzed in six replicates. The samples were put directly into the analyzer’s upright crucibles, without prior sample preparation. All samples were measured with helium as carrier gas, with standard settings and tube fillings. The nitrogen content of the samples was multiplied by the protein factor of 6.25 to determine the protein content.

The data results presented in the Application Note exceeded expectations, even for samples at high protein concentrations; the deviations were well below industry standards. For example, the four types of protein powders from soy, pea, hemp, and rice were all measured with an absolute standard deviation (SD) of <0.03% for the homogeneous samples with a protein content of up to 87%. For the liquid oat drink and the cheese analogue the measurement results demonstrate the high-quality instrument performance.

The measurement results highlight the broad applicability of the instrument by the low relative standard deviation (RSD) of different alternative protein products with varying protein sources and sample sizes. You can download the application note, including the data tables for all the sample replicates here.

“In a rapidly expanding market focused on plant-based nutrition, various stages of the supply chain, from developing novel protein sources to creating appealing plant-based products, precise and reproducible protein determination is key”, said Joseph Thomas, President & CEO, Elementar Americas. “This is especially crucial as new farming and production methods emerge. Beyond adhering to labeling laws, understanding protein content is pivotal for product quality, functionality, and pricing. And, as the food-tech industry embraces automation and digitization, the call for seamless integration of analytical solutions grows louder.”

The rapid MAX N exceed not only offers an environmentally friendly alternative but also offers accurate and reproducible results. It’s safe because of the Dumas Combustion method versus the classic Kjeldahl method that uses harsh chemicals like sulfuric acid. Additionally, the rapid MAX N exceed analyzer performs a full combustion and measures the entire sample (as opposed to an aliquot of the combusted sample). “Our plant-based protein customers have told us that a complete combustion of a full sample, not just an aliquot that was stored in a ballast is crucial to the work that they perform every day in their labs.”

Additionally, the ability to use argon or helium as a carrier gas reduces dependence on helium and its supply challenges. Thomas commented, “Its automated design, capable of handling a wide range of sample types including solids and liquids, is a testament to its versatility. Because the analyzer is automated it facilitates around-the-clock operation. This adaptability is crucial for the alternative protein market due to its challenging samples and need for quick results.”

Download the application note to view the full data results from the sample analysis on multiple plant-based samples.

If you have any questions or would like to get in touch with us, please email info@futureofproteinproduction.com

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