As part of the HumanProtSources research project, Agroscope is developing a new method to evaluate the quality of proteins by measuring protein digestibility. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has developed the so-called Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIAAS) method for the evaluation of protein digestibility. However, this method is based on in vivo experiments, which are costly and raise ethical concerns. The aim of the HumanProtSources project is to develop and establish an in vitro DIAAS method, that simulates human digestion and allows the calculation of the DIAAS of a protein source. The new method will be accessible for all stakeholders involved in the development of protein-rich foods of various origins. With the support of Swiss Food Research, a first joint project between Agroscope and the Insekterei GmbH has been funded to evaluate protein digestibility of edible insects by using the novel in vitro method.
Insects as alternative protein sources
Insects are a new component of Western diets and a promising source of high-quality animal protein similar to meat but having a comparably small ecological footprint (water use, land use, greenhouse gas emissions). However, the digestibility (DIAAS) of these proteins has so far not been measured; therefore, these claims need to be scientifically investigated.
High protein quality and digestibility are important criteria in terms of nutritional value and marketing arguments that support the consumers’ acceptance of these novel protein sources.