Startup offers vegan canned tuna.Some say it makes food safer

It turns out that an Israeli company, Vgarden Ltd., has developed what it calls a “breakthrough” vegan canned tuna.

Tuna is the world’s most popular fish, so it can be ‘game-changing’ in multiple ways. Open the cupboard in almost any home and chances are you’ll find a can or more of tuna on one of the shelves. You may find your favourite.

But while tuna is plentiful on grocery shelves, the reason we try to produce fish-free tuna is especially because it is an affordable and convenient source of protein not only in the United States, but also in Europe and Asia. . South America and Middle East.


The problem for the Israeli company is that overfishing of this high-demand fish has had a devastating effect on their numbers, with several species such as yellowfin and Atlantic bluefin tuna endangered. said Tom Rothman, head of global sales for Israeli plant-based startup Vgarden.

“This not only creates problems in terms of food security, but also adversely affects the delicate and fragile balance of the marine environment,” he said.

Hoping to “turn the tables” on this, the company has devoted 12 months of research and development to the challenge of creating canned tuna that will contribute to the recovery of wild tuna populations in the ocean.

This is an attempt to create a plant-based product that retains the taste, texture, and aroma of canned tuna.

“This was the biggest challenge,” explained Omer Eliav, head of research and development and co-founder of Vgarden. “The biggest challenge in making the exact same canned tuna is to provide a full sensory experience of taste, texture and smell. We want it to be appealing to all consumers, not just vegans. thinking about.”

After much trial and error and tasting, the company managed to achieve the “precise look and feel” of tuna.

Vgarden’s chief executive, Ilan Adut, said the company’s canned tuna has a very unique flaky yet moist and crunchy texture and a strong fresh ocean scent.

In honor of the modern consumer demanding “clean-labeled” foods, Eliav also strips unnecessary additives from labels to make sure they contain only a short list of ingredients. said it was important.

“Our new tuna-like product is clean-label, scalable, affordable and sustainable,” he said. “However, for our plant-based product to function as a true substitute, it must not only attractively mimic all sensory qualities, but also match tuna as closely as possible in nutritional value. there is.”

Vgarden’s tuna is based on pea protein and has a total protein content of 11.2-14% before and after filtration. It includes a short list of natural ingredients such as fiber and sunflower oil.

The company’s own brand of tuna is already sold in some retail and restaurant industries. He is available in two packaging formats, a pouch for refrigerated storage and a tin that allows the full taste of real tuna and facilitates convenient non-refrigerated storage.

What about food safety?
Conventional tuna has several food safety issues, the main one being mercury.

In a recent study, Consumer Reports tested five brands of tuna to check for mercury levels. Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea, Starkist, Safe Catch and Wild Planet tins. The pouch container contains the same type of tuna as the can, but the pouch has not been tested.

There was a wide range of mercury levels between types (light and albacore) and brands. According to Consumer Reports, albacore had higher levels of mercury than all brands, which is not surprising given the larger size of the fish.

Albacore tuna is a large fish with lighter flesh, firmer texture and milder flavor than firm or chunky lighter fish varieties.

Generally speaking, the larger the fish of any kind, the more mercury it can contain.

Pregnant women are advised not to eat fish because researchers have found that mercury levels can spike with each can, regardless of brand or type.Albacore is also recommended for children. should be completely absent.

Mercury, a known neurotoxin, can cause many problems for a developing fetus. It’s also a health risk for children whose bodies and brains are still developing, and it’s also harmful for adults, causing problems with fine motor coordination, speech, sleep, walking, and a tingling sensation.

Company spokesman Ben Dotan said food safety news Its plant-based tuna does not contain any animal-derived ingredients. And since it contains no fish parts, it does not contain mercury, heavy metals, microplastics from marine and fish farm pollution, or cholesterol.

“One of the big challenges in developing this product was maintaining the texture and taste even after the product was canned and pasteurized at high temperatures,” says Dotan. “Our canned tuna is pasteurized at very high temperatures for a long time, so it will not spoil for a long time.”

According to Consumer Reports, if your child eats only tuna and no other fish, the safe amount per week is:

1-3 Years — 2 oz

4-7 Years — 4 oz

8-10 Years — 6 oz

Surprisingly, canned tuna actually has less mercury than fresh tuna.

According to Consumer Reports, canned tuna is widely consumed in America and is often the only fish people eat.

With the well-known benefits of fish, including tuna, knowing how much is enough becomes a delicate balancing act.

According to a Consumer Reports 2022 national survey of 2,185 adults, about a third of Americans eat canned tuna at least twice a month, and 10% eat it at least once a week.

Globally, tuna is the most consumed fish in the world, according to a United Nations report. The global tuna market is projected to grow from $41.06 billion in 2022 to $49.7 billion in 2029.

Still, tuna’s popularity coincides with a significant increase in ethically and ecologically motivated health-conscious consumers seeking plant-based seafood alternatives, Vgarden officials said. increase.

Consumer Reports asked all companies and the National Fisheries Institute, the industry group representing canned tuna manufacturers, to comment on the study. The lab said the levels Consumer Reports found were well below the FDA limit, and the product is safe.

where does mercury come from
Mercury is naturally present at low levels in rocks, soil and water around the world, according to a FoodPrint article. However, human activity has increased total atmospheric mercury concentrations by about 450%. This becomes a serious human health problem.

The burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and gold mining, is the largest source of anthropogenic mercury emissions.

Once in the air, mercury can travel thousands of miles, eventually entering the ocean or a large body of water, where it can be deposited on land or land and washed downstream.

When marine bacteria process mercury, they produce methylmercury, a highly toxic chemical. This chemical accumulates in seafood and causes health problems in humans, especially young people.

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