Significance of Fermentation in Plant-Based Meat Analogs: A Critical Review of Nutrition, and Safety-Related AspectsHosam Elhalis, Xin Yi See, Raffael Osen, Xin Hui Chin, Yvonne Chow
- Plant Science
- Health Professions (miscellaneous)
- Health (social science)
- Food Science
Plant-based meat analogs have been shown to cause less harm for both human health and the environment compared to real meat, especially processed meat. However, the intense pressure to enhance the sensory qualities of plant-based meat alternatives has caused their nutritional and safety aspects to be overlooked. This paper reviews our current understanding of the nutrition and safety behind plant-based meat alternatives, proposing fermentation as a potential way of overcoming limitations in these aspects. Plant protein blends, fortification, and preservatives have been the main methods for enhancing the nutritional content and stability of plant-based meat alternatives, but concerns that include safety, nutrient deficiencies, low digestibility, high allergenicity, and high costs have been raised in their use. Fermentation with microorganisms such as Bacillus subtilis, Lactiplantibacillus plantarum, Neurospora intermedia, and Rhizopus oryzae improves digestibility and reduces allergenicity and antinutritive factors more effectively. At the same time, microbial metabolites can boost the final product’s safety, nutrition, and sensory quality, although some concerns regarding their toxicity remain. Designing a single starter culture or microbial consortium for plant-based meat alternatives can be a novel solution for advancing the health benefits of the final product while still fulfilling the demands of an expanding and sustainable economy.