The process replaces petroleum-based chemicals in food with natural ingredients
Spotted: Food colourings have had a bad press in recent years. For example, following reports that artificial dyes in foods cause neurobehavioural issues in children, a petition was delivered to the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seeking removal of the food colourant Red 3 from the country’s list of approved additives. And another issue is the fact that many artificial food colourants are petroleum-based, making their production environmentally unsustainable.
Step forward the power of fungi. Biotechnology company Michroma is engineering fungi and utilising precision fermentation to create a new library of natural colourants and other ingredients crucial to the food and drug industries. The company’s first product is Red +, a temperature-resistant bright red shade that is pH stable across the entirety of the food ingredient spectrum. Made by bioengineering fungi that are then produced in batches via precision fermentation, the colourant is cost-effective to produce, unlike most other natural food colours that require significant agricultural resources to grow.
The company focused its launch on the warm colours of the spectrum because they are used in 90 per cent of food market products. Michroma’s ingredients are vegan, non-GMO, halal, and kosher, making them ideal for a diversity of uses. The combination of general stability and temperature resistance makes the colours ideal for use in baked goods, confectionary, dairy products, extruded foods, and more.
The company recently raised $6.4 million (around €5 million) of seed funding that will be used for making other colours, scaling up general manufacturing, and beginning development of additional products to be used as direct replacements for petroleum-based items such as perfumes and flavours.
Written By: Keely Khoury