The nutritional & health benefits of microbial biomass

What is microbial biomass, and why is it fascinating for food stuff and ingredient manufacturers?

Anita Harzog NIZO

Anita Hartog, Senior Scientist at NIZO. ©AHartog/NIZO

Anita Hartog (AH): “The phrase ‘microbe’ is made use of below in the wide connotation of bacteria, fungi, yeast and algae. Microbial biomass is the outcome of the fermentation, by these microbes, of natural and organic substrates these kinds of as by-items from the sugar field and other food stuff processing residues, or hydrogen substrates together with methanol and methane. Biomass ideal for human or animal consumption has typically been referred to as single mobile protein (SCP).

“Making use of these forms of edible microorganisms is not a completely new idea for the duration of Earth War I, for illustration, Germany made edible yeast for foodstuff on a substantial scale. But the idea of using microbial biomass as a food stuff resource truly started getting steam in the 1960s, sooner or later ensuing, for case in point, in the 1980s start of mycoprotein (Quorn), derived from the Fusarium venenatum fungus.

“The most important incentive for making use of microbial biomass to generate food stuff has been its sustainability: it doesn’t call for as significantly arable land or h2o as elevating animals and crops. And it can renovate aspect streams or even discarded substrates into protein, minimizing wastage. But microbial biomass can offer buyers and producers significantly a lot more.

Nizo Feb graphic

Is microbial biomass protein as higher in protein as meat and dairy?

AH: “The protein content of algae, these types of as spirulina, can be as large as 46-65% of its dry fat. Fungi can operate to 30-50% protein: mycoprotein, for example, is 45% protein by dry body weight. Microorganisms can be 50-80% protein. And yeast can have a protein material of all over 50% protein by dry pounds.