Interview – Pierre Calleja: Plant-based salmon that is made from algae

Interview – Pierre Calleja: Plant-based salmon that is made from algae

Our team at The Flexitarian Society Foundation is always looking for innovative plant-based solutions to the foods we know and love. Today, we are pleased to publish an interview with a French scientist, Pierre Calleja.

Velimir Radojicic, a technologist from Serbia and a member of the Board of Directors of the foundation talked to Pierre about the product he invented – plant-based salmon that is made from algae.

Pierre developed the product for a company based in France called Odontella. You can read more about their work here.

Velimir : Hello Pierre. Thank you for speaking to us today. Could you tell us more what is Odontella ,where is it grown or found in nature and what can be made from it for human consumption?

Pierre : Odontella aurita, the microalga specie approved in Europe for human consumption in 2002, is present in all temperate and warm oceans and seas (northern and southern hemispheres). Currently, O. aurita is mainly used as a nutritional supplement (providing EPA and DHA, silica and a powerful antioxidant, fucoxanthine) and sold by a few companies on the net. Due to its high nutritional quality Odontella is an ideal nutritional substance for human alimentation.

Velimir : Does it contain all 9 essential amino acids?

Pierre : Yes, it is well known that marine microalgae proteins contain all 9 essential amino acids and are of high quality (see the table below).

Essential amino acid profiles of different complete protein sources and the WHO / FAO (1973) reference model (g / 100 g protein).

Velimir : How much protein does it contain?

Pierre : The protein contents of this microalga vary from 20 to 30 g / 100 g in dry weight.

Velimir : Does it contain omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids?

Pierre : Yes, but the concentrations in total omega-3 is lot more important than the total amount of omega-6, 32 % of omega-3 for 1,2 % of omega-6 from the total fatty acids in oil extracted from this microalga. EPA + DHA represents 28 % of the total fatty acids produced by O. aurita.

Velimir : Is it really possible to produce smoked salmon from this algae?

Yes, O. aurita can be used as an ingredient that will bring the fishy taste for the vegetal smoked salmon and also bring long chain marine omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA).

Velimir : What is the difference between sea salmon and salmon obtained from algae … say from Odontella.

Pierre: Same level of lipids but less proteins

Velimir : Are only known technological operations applied in the production of smoked salmon from algae ?

Pierre : Yes, but the industrial process steps are kept secret.

Velimir : Are there any heavy metals and pesticides in this algae ?

Because the microalgae have a very high growth capacity they absorb much less toxic compounds then larger plants or animals coming from the same sea waters. There is no bioaccumulation in these organisms of the first trophic level. Moreover, the microalgae can be produced in closed systems (photo-bioreactors) with a very good control of the water quality and all ingredients used for the culture.

Velimir : How is the aroma of smoke and the color of smoked salmon  provided in this production?

Pierre : Color comes from naturel carotenoids and paprika. Salmon is mainly smoked on a wood burner.

Velimir : How to ensure that salmon produced in this way can be easily cut with a knife without collapsing the structure of the “parcel”?

Pierre :  We have done this for five years with absolutely no problem.

Velimir : Is the feeling of biting the same as with sea salmon and by which technological operation is this feeling provided?

Pierre : Not identical, but the mouth feeling is comparable and for some people, the texture of the SALMON is quite comparable as the texture of the flesh of smoked salmon.

Velimir : How to ensure that the salmon obtained in this way contains useful carbohydrates?

Pierre: The useful carbohydrates are in fact soluble and insoluble fibers that are used to give the texture of the SALMON.

Velimir : Is it possible that in the applied technological process of production there is a degradation of useful ingredients from Odontella … or everything is completely preserved?

Pierre : Every step of the process of production are quite soft and will not degrade the omega-3 fatty acids that are probably the more fragile molecules of the microalgae.  So, all compounds from O. aurita will be preserved in the final product.

Velimir : How and in what packaging it is packed?

Pierre: FSC cardboard/ 100% recycled paper/ Green link.

Velimir : Will the price of this product be acceptable for consumers?

Pierre: Yes , the price is average Solmon® price between premium and low product

Velimir: Shelf life of such a product?

Pierre:  60 days guaranteed at customer’s //Consume within 2  or 3 days after opening

Velimir : Storage conditions – from production to consumers?

Pierre : Chilled storage, keep refrigerated at max +7°

Thank you Pierre for taking the time to explain this amazing product!

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