Making ice cream from meat

by Bryan Salvage
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Late last week, I read a blurb from news.com.au that certainly had to make vegans and others in the international anti-meat camp squirm in angst. Scientists in New Zealand believe extracting more from meat could introduce Earth’s inhabitants to truly unique foods in the not-too-distant future. As the story goes, Red Meat Combifoods’ program researchers are investigating ways meat proteins can be further separated and used in more ... non-meat foods.

Products made so far from animal protein include thyme and ginger-flavored ice cream, which reportedly tasted “pretty good”, high-protein bread or meat-based spaghetti, claims one PhD member of AgResearch. AgResearch says on its web site it works to enhance the productivity, profitability and value of the pastoral, agri-food and agri-technology sector value-chains in New Zealand.

There are many reasons why such foods would be useful, the source claimed. If children between the ages of one and three years do not eat enough meat, research supports they could be at risk of not getting the right types and amount of nutrition. So, non-meat products made from meat could provide mothers with a possible solution for those problem kids who won’t eat foods essential to a sound diet.

I witnessed this challenge first-hand during a birthday dinner at a local restaurant with my family last Sunday. My two-and-a-half year-old granddaughter, Jordyn, ate a little from her plate before coming to a full stall. After taking several bites, she spent the rest of the time pushing pieces of food around her plate...until the spumoni ice cream was set before her. She looked at that bowl of ice cream like a cheetah eyeing a gazelle for the kill and spooned it out of her dish slowly but steadily like a miniature steam shovel until the ice cream was completely gone. If this spumoni were a more nutritious, protein-based product, she would have gotten more nutrition that she missed by not eating most of her meal.

While New Zealand’s research might sound bizarre to some people, the source reminds readers that decades ago milk and cream were the only products offered in the dairy industry. But evolving technology eventually led to separating whey and casein proteins. As a result, consumers throughout the world now can enjoy a wide range of milk-based products.

Although the New Zealand meat industry is helping to fund this research, no companies are actively researching producing such new meat-based, non-meat foods at the moment – and it may take five or more years to reach that stage, the source said. Perhaps most important to meatpoultry.com readers, this research might lead to making meat more sustainable by allowing more of the animal to be used as food. Researchers are looking hard at using parts of the carcass that might otherwise be underutilized or discarded.

Research has been underway in the US for years in trying to extend use of underutilized cuts, which is a terrific idea. For example, the beef checkoff-funded Beef Innovations Group (BIG) debuted six new cuts from the beef round during the first Innovative Beef Symposium in Denver several years ago. Products consisted of lean value-added steak and roast options for retail and food-service outlets, including Santa Fe Cut, Round Petite Tender, San Antonio Steak, Tucson Cut, Braison Cut and the Merlot Cut.

I don’t think I’ll be eating meat-based ice cream at a local ice-cream chain anytime too soon, but if it’s offered ... you can bet I’ll try it. Such a product will likely never become mainstream in the US, but it will help to move more product, allow toddlers to get more nutrition as a supplement – plus provide editors like me with some pretty unusual information for future articles.

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