Interdisciplinary research on ’Novel food’

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The Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Bayreuth in Kulmbach is - funded by Manfred Roth Stiftung - launching new interdisciplinary research on the supply of proteins through Novel Food. The composition of the disciplines under which Novel Food will be examined is unique: Researchers from the fields of biochemistry, food metabolome, psychology, nutrition sociology, food law and food supply chain management are involved. They will compare the quality of proteins from conventional foods with those from alternative foods.

Humans depend on the ingestion of proteins to process their food, which are broken down into amino acids in the gastrointestinal tract. These in turn are absorbed by the organism and serve as molecular building blocks for the production of the body’s own proteins, which are essential for life and enable growth and development, among other things. Some amino acids ("essential amino acids") must absolutely be supplied through nutrition, as the human body cannot produce them itself. Traditionally, humans have consumed a large proportion of proteins in the form of meat, fish and dairy products. Due to climate change and pressure to produce food more sustainably, consumers are becoming more aware of alternative sources of protein, such as pulses, peas, lentils and soy. They have a relatively high protein content. These vegetable proteins can be consumed directly or processed in meat substitutes. Novel protein sources include insects, algae and fungi.

The aim of this project is to compare the quantity and quality of protein supply from conventional and alternative protein-containing foods using analytical-chemical and biochemical methods. In doing so, the faculty will involve numerous disciplines; the scientific perspective will be supplemented by surveys of consumers on general acceptance and frequency of consumption. Furthermore, legal aspects in the context of novel foods will be considered and commodity flows and aspects of the circular economy will be investigated. These reearchers will be involved:

  • Prof. Janin Henkel-Oberländer (Chair of Nutritional Biochemistry) and Prof. Susanne Baldermann (Chair of Food Metabolome) will extract proteins from food and analyse them quantitatively and qualitatively.
  • Jun.Prof. Laura König (Public Health Nutrition) and Jun.Prof. Tina Bartelmeß (Sociology of Nutrition) will investigate behavioural and social science aspects, including a survey of about 1,000 people.
  • Prof. Kai Purnhagen (Chair of Food Law) is looking at legal aspects of alternative protein-containing foods such as insects, mushrooms and mushroom ingredients, which are considered novel foods.
  • Prof. Christian Fikar (Chair of Food Supply Chain Management) conducts analyses in the field of quality management and circular economy with a focus on the use of regionally produced food or raw materials.

Handing over the funding on February 7th in Kulmbach (from left): Klaus Teichmann, Jun.- Tim Dorlach, Dr. Günther Beckstein, Thomas Streng, Dr. Wilhelm Polster, Christian Fikar, Janin Henkel-Oberländer, Frank Suhr, Jun.-Prof. Tina Bartelmeß, Susanne Baldermann, Kai Purnhagen, Corina Vlot-Schuster

About the Manfred Roth Foundation:

Following the death of the company’s founder Manfred Roth on 05 April 2010, the NORMA company was converted into a foundation on 23 December 2011 and from this point onwards trades under the name NORMA Lebensmittelfilialbetrieb Stiftung & Co. KG. The purpose of the charitable Manfred Roth Foundation includes, among other things, the promotion of science and research, education and upbringing. Furthermore, the selfless support of persons who are dependent on the help of others due to their physical, mental and emotional condition is promoted as well as aspects of animal breeding and animal welfare.