NETHERLANDS – Scientists from Wageningen University and Research (WUR) have pioneered a cutting-edge approach to food production through their Multi-Criteria Assessment Platform (MCAP) for food reverse engineering.
This innovative model, designed to consider a plethora of factors including palatability, nutrition, sustainability, safety, and economic viability, heralds a new era in the food industry.
The essence of reverse engineering lies in the deconstruction of the intended product, paving the way for an ideal design, according to Food Safety Magazine.
WUR’s MCAP takes this concept to a new level, delving deep into every aspect of the food supply chain, from raw materials to the finished product. By addressing diverse issues and factors comprehensively, companies can proactively tackle challenges and craft superior end products.
In their pioneering study, WUR researchers collaborated with food producer Vivera, employing a vegetarian burger as a case study.
Through exhaustive research, the team identified six crucial criteria: nutritional value and taste, environmental impact, chemical risks, microbiological risks, economic viability, and consumer preferences.
Employing databases and models, the experts quantified and compared ingredients against these criteria, offering rankings that unveil the most sustainable, healthiest, safest, most profitable, or consumer-preferred ingredients.
One intriguing discovery was made during consumer preference surveys: familiarity significantly influences perception.
Ingredients well-known to consumers received higher ratings for health and safety, even if they weren’t the healthiest or most environmentally friendly choices.
This insight highlights the intricate relationship between consumer familiarity and perception, shaping the future landscape of food innovation.
The MCAP is not static, it will continues to evolve. WUR researchers have the flexibility to incorporate new components and functionalities, such as taste and texture analysis or assessing the impact of side streams from specific products.
Furthermore, their vision includes digitalizing the platform further and integrating criteria more seamlessly, ensuring a holistic and dynamic tool for food producers.