A Lighter Delicacy
Turning waste chicken feathers from the poultry industry into an alternative and lean source of edible protein.
This project proposes an alternative way to manage the 2.3 million tonnes of EU feather waste from slaughterhouses by converting its nutrient component into a new edible product. Chemically, chicken feathers are composed of approximately 91% protein (keratin) which contains up to eight types of essential amino acids that we require as part of a healthy diet. It has been proven that keratin protein from feathers is safe for general consumption within our daily diet.
By extracting these essential proteins from the feathers, designer Sorawut Kittibanthorn has developed a new ‘melt-in-the-mouth' food product that is completely safe, light in calories and provides us with the essential amino acids we require in daily life. Alongside reducing the carbon footprint and reconsidering how we categorise 'waste'.
They hope that through consuming edible feathers we may pioneer a food culture that symbolises self-development and present an empathetic response to the world. Which works towards developing a new food culture that expresses social belonging and cultural identity. Consequently, ‘A Lighter Delicacy’ could contribute and be considered a 'tool' towards achieving a sustainable future.
1. Keratin extraction
Biological Keratin treatment - Enzymatic treatments
Biological treatment requires microbial keratinolysis treatment which employs microorganisms that produce enzymes to break the rigid and strongly cross-linked keratin structure in feathers called "Keratinase". Keratinase is a particular class of extracellular proteolytic inducible enzyme with the capability of degrading insoluble keratin substrates. In this process, Bacillus licheniformis Keratinase is selected and supplied by ‘Creative Enzymes’, an enzyme manufacturing company based in New York.
2. Sculpting alternative meat
This process aims to replicate the tenderness and texture of chicken meat and 'melt-in-the-mouth' quality.
Collagen content in high-quality meat protein affects flexibility and firmness. In order to mimic this collagen property, they constructed a sponge structure in food to encapsulate the air inside. On a micro-scale, the air is supported between mini scaffolding structures which minimise the density of food, this structure creates the firmness and lightness properties in food.
Replicating the 'melt-in-the-mouth' quality of chicken meat requires a low melting point to dissolve fat and its binders. Through the light weight sponge structure, when we take a bite saliva when eating floods the air out of the keratin meat. This method speeds up the dissolving rate in the mouth and reduces chewing required. The protein then becomes more easily to swallow. In conjunction to this, all selected food binders have a lower melting point than human body temperature and is low in sugar and sodium content. Under these circumstances, the physical and chemical aspects of making contribute to a melt-in-the-mouth texture, able to substitute fat in food and trick our food perception senses.
Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.
Professor Keshavan Niranjan, Food and Nutritional Sciences, University of Reading Dr. Shem Johnson, Specialist Technician, Grow Lab at Central Saint Martins An enzyme supplier, Creative Enzymes company, New York