Taste Connections licenses CU low-protein meat supplement

By Staff

The University of Colorado and Taste Connections LLC, a California-based company, have completed a licensing agreement allowing Taste Connections to commercialize a CU technology for low-protein meat products.

Protein is an essential element of our everyday diet, and is necessary for growth, repair and upkeep of the human body. However, some people are unable to completely break down dietary protein because they are missing a particular enzyme (due to a variety of inherited disorders), and a buildup of specific amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) occurs. This buildup can lead to neurological damage, coma or death. From infancy, these people are limited in their whole-protein choices; their diets are supplemented with metabolic formulas that supply most of the calories, vitamins, minerals and total protein they need, but their diet must still be kept low in specific amino acids.

A research group led by Laurie Bernstein, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, has developed a low-protein substitute for bacon, which is usually too high in protein for patients who are on amino-acid-restricted diets. Using the formula developed at CU, the protein composition of the bacon substitute can be reduced by up to 80 percent or more compared to the original meat product. These lower protein levels allow a person to continue consuming low-protein food options that add flavor and increase satiety, while still limiting the intake of the specific amino acids that cannot be broken down. People who are on low-protein diets for other reasons such as kidney disease might also find these products useful.

Taste Connections plans to use the technology, which it exclusively licensed from CU, to develop low-protein bacon bits.

"Preparing low-protein products that taste delicious is the main goal for my company and adding this new product will enhance our ability to offer a satisfying menu of products," said Malathy Ramanujam, CEO of Taste Connections.

"We are hopeful that these new products will contribute to a higher quality of life for individuals suffering from inherited metabolic disorders," said Rick Silva of the University of Colorado Technology Transfer Office.