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Formulating Whey and Soy Protein for RTD Beverages


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Soy Protein

Soy protein is another option when fortifying high-acid beverages. It offers an alternative for consumers who are allergic to milk proteins and are lactose intolerant. In addition, soy protein is a good option when formulating protein-fortified vegan beverages.

Soy protein, like whey, is nutritionally complete. Soy protein is a high-quality protein, with a Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) comparable to that of animal-derived proteins such as beef, milk and eggs. This score is used to rate proteins sources based on human amino acid requirements and protein digestibility in humans. Both whey and soy protein have perfect scores of 1.0. Soy also offers high levels of the amino acids glutamine and arginine, which are important for growth hormone release and building muscle.

Formulating with soy can also have the advantage of health-heart label claims. Much research has been conducted in the area of soy protein's potential to lower blood cholesterol and lower the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). In 1999, FDA issued a health claim about soy protein and its effect on heart disease stating: "25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease."

Historically, soy has taken a back seat to whey protein when formulating high-acid RTD beverages. First off, soy is not as soluble as whey protein in high-acid conditions, but it can be made heat stable with the addition of specific stabilizers such as pectin, xanthan and guar gum. It also poses formulation issues from a flavor and texture standpoint. Soy protein isolates have come a long way to rid their inherent beany flavor and gritty texture thanks to alcohol washing and improved milling technologies. A formulation advantage that soy has over whey is cost. Typically, plant-based proteins are cheaper to produce than animal-based proteins, making it an attractive component on the ingredient list.

Until recently, no commercially available soy protein has been able to produce transparent beverages. CLARISOY™ is a 100-percent soluble and transparent isolated soy protein designed to be used in beverage systems with a pH of less than 4.0. ADM signed an exclusive agreement with Burcon NutraScience, the company that developed CLARISOY, to manufacture, market and sell the specialty protein, which debuted this June at the National IFT Expo in New Orleans.

New Novel Proteins are on the Rise

Proteins have always been a hot topic, and with the rising cost of dairy proteins, novel plant proteins are being explored for high-acid RTD products. Plant-based functional proteins can offer more than standard nutrition and are cropping up everywhere. Potato and pea protein boast satiety benefits via their effect on gastrointestinal (GI) peptides. Rice enjoys its low-allergy status. Time will tell which of these proteins will be suitable for high-acid RTD systems. Who knows what you might find in your next protein drink … maybe a little potato?

Charlotte Dieroff is a product developer at the International Food Network (IFN) and holds a bachelor’s of science in food science from Cornell University and a master’s of business administration from Xavier University. Her background includes developing frozen desserts, and weight-loss and dry-mix beverages. Since 1987, IFN has provided new product development services to the supplement, nutritional products and food and beverage industries. (866) 778-5129.

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