The Rapid Preparation of Vegan Cream Cheese for Amino Acid Analysis

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Introduction

With rising concerns surrounding the environmental impact of animal farming, animal welfare, and the nutrition of traditional meat and dairy products, plant-based alternatives are becoming a mainstay to grocery stores, restaurants, and retailers. However, the rapid growth of this industry and the acceptance of these products by consumers has led to a gap in the abilities of regulators and standards groups to monitor and evaluate the efficacy of current analytical techniques. From in-house proximate analysis and nutritional label testing to adhering to FDA requirements on the level of contaminants and more, everything associated with analyzing alternative protein products still needs to be formally defined. One such area includes the identity and quantity of the amino acids that make up the protein in these products.

In order to determine the amino acid content of a sample, proteinogenic amino acid residues must first be released from their protein-bound form. There are several methods available to accomplish this; however, the classical method is to hydrolyze the sample in the presence of 6N HCl at 110 °C for 18-24 h. This lengthy reaction time represents a significant bottleneck in amino acid analysis. Alternatively, the utilization of microwave heating offers a variety of advantages compared to conventional heating mechanisms. Namely, the dielectric microwave heating mechanism allows for instantaneous and uniform volumetric heating. In contrast conventional heating relies on a slow gradient heat transfer from the heating mantle to the vial walls and finally into the reaction contents. Herein, CEM's Discover Prep™ was used to prepare chickpea protein vegan cream cheese for amino acid analysis. The Discover Prep is a state-of-the-art single cavity microwave system that utilizes precise temperature monitoring and compressed air cooling to rapidly prepare samples for amino acid analysis with accuracy and precision that matches traditional methods.