An official website of the United States government.

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you've safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.



The purpose of this project is to critically evaluate the potential of usingsoft-matter physicsapproaches to create the next generation of high-quality plant-based meat analogs.These approaches are based on understanding and controlling the structural organization of the molecules within a material so as to create specific physicochemical, functional, and sensory attributes, such as appearance, texture, mouthfeel, flavor, stability, and cookability.In this project, plant-based proteins and polysaccharides will be used as the main building blocks, while soft matter physics approaches will be used to assemble them into specific meat-like structures.Moreover, the relationship between product composition, structure, physicochemical, and sensory properties will be established.The knowledge gained from this project should provide information that the food industry can use to create better quality plant-based meat analogs for whole muscle meats. The following specific aims will be addressed:1. Optimization of soft-matter physics approaches for creating plant-based meat analogs:The potential of a number of soft matter physics approaches for creating meat analogs from plant-based ingredients will be critically evaluated: (i) heat-induced fibrillation; (ii) controlled phase separation-gelation; and (iii) lipid droplet formation.Our aim is to create hierarchical structures in plant-based foods from the nanoscale to the microscale that mimic those formed by muscle proteins, connective tissue, and adipose tissue in whole muscle meats.The microstructure of these plant-based meat analogs will be related to their physicochemical attributes: appearance, texture, and water holding.At the completion of these experiments, we will have gained a good understanding of the link between the structural organization of plant-based meat analogs and their physicochemical properties.2. Optimization of functional performance of plant-based meat analogs: Plant-based meat analogs are usually chilled or frozen to increase their shelf life, and then cooked prior to consumption.Cooking may be carried out using a variety of methods including baking, boiling, broiling, frying, and microwaving.Cooling or heating meat analogs will alter their appearance, texture, integrity, and moisture holding properties.For this reason, we will systematically examine the impact of temperature changes on the properties of the meat analogs, and, if necessary, identify effective strategies to improve their functional performance under different thermal conditions.3. Development of model plant-based meat analogs:As a proof-of-concept, the knowledge gained from the previous sections will be used to create a plant-based chicken breast analog.Plant-based colors and flavors will be added to the product and then it will be prepared using standardized cooking methods.The physicochemical and sensory attributes of the cooked product will then be compared to that of real chicken meat using a non-vegetarian panel.

McClements, D. Julian
University of Massachusetts
Start date
End date
Project number
Accession number