Single cell protein

Single cell protein:

Microorganisms have been extensively employed for preparation of a range of fermented foods. For example cheese, butter, idlis, etc. Additionally, a number of microorganisms have long been employed like human food, example the blue green alga Spirulina, and the fungi generally termed as mushrooms.  More recently, attempts have been prepared to generate microbial biomass by using low- cost substrates and use like a supplemental food for human consumption or employed like feed for animals. Cells from a range of micro-organisms, viz., bacteria, yeasts, filamentous fungi and algae employed like food or feed are called single cell protein (SCP).

The word ‘single cell protein’ was coined in the year 1966. The dried cells of microorganisms employed like a food or feed for animals and they are together termed as Microbial proteins. This word was changed by a new word ‘single cell protein’.   The isolated protein or the total cell material is termed as the SCP.

In view of the inadequate world food supply and the high protein content of microbial cells, the make use of biomass generated in the fermentor (particular sterilized vessel) or bio-reactor would be perfect supplement for conventional food. Single cell protein is of huge nutritional value because of its high protein, vitamin and lipid content and for its necessary amino acids.  In several countries, though people hesitate to use SCP as a main food source due to the following:

1. The high nucleic acid content (4 to 6 % in algae, 6 to10 % in yeast of SCP) can be the reasons for health problems such as uric acid formation, kidney stones and rheumatism in human beings.

2. Toxic/carcinogenic (cancer causing) substances absorbed from the microbial growth substrate might be exist.

3. Slow digestion of microbial cell in the digestive tract might cause vomiting, indigestion and allergic reaction.

4. High cost of creation will also be a deciding factor in ascertaining the final place of SCP in the human / animal diet.

5. The following substrates are being studied for SCP production: methane, alkanes, cellulose, methanol, carbohydrates and waste materials.

6. Natural sources such as wood chips, rice husk, cane and beet molasses, peas and coffee industrial waste from which cellulose is acquired and are employed for the production of SCP.

7. Large scale cultivation of yeast on molasses is extensively employed in the manufacture of Baker’s yeast comprising mycoproteins that is employed in the SCP production.

8. Domestic sewage is not appropriate for large scale SCP production.  But it is more significant for methane production. The industrial wastewater from cellulose processing, coffee and starch production, and food processing has been employed for SCP production.


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