Researchers in the United Kingdom have found a new method by which you can taste the natural flavor of the fruits without needing to open one.
Oxford Biotrans, a company based in the UK, have used certain chemicals of orange with molecules made by micro-organism to make it taste like grapefruit. Not only them, but many companies are also using micro-organism to forge flavors and scent, which are normally found in roses or other plants.
There is a high demand for natural labeled products in the market, and the companies aim to fulfill that by taking the support of microbes. Companies can sell their products by saying that it uses all-natural flavors.
Now the main question here is, will Biotechnology be able to meet this demand. And will those flavors be the same as that of the original fruit?
So what is this natural flavor anyways?
A natural flavor comes from fruit, yeast, bark, spice, and other biological materials that can be extracted directly or can be extracted with the help of the fermentation or heating process.
So how can you separate natural flavors with artificial ones?
They have a similar chemical composition, but they are not identical. Artificial flavors are more simple since they are only made from ingredients that are tested for safety. People are doubtful about using artificial flavors. Some tend to be very different from the natural ones.
Generally, the artificial version of a flavor will be less expensive. There are some cases where going the artificial route isn’t that much cheaper.
To make a natural grapefruit flavor, the researchers first isolated a chemical known as valencene from oranges. They also use a kind of enzyme that living creatures use to spur chemical reactions inside their bodies that are found in bacteria, plants, and animals.
The team has made a few tweaks to its complex structure and engineered E. coli to make the improved version. When mixed with valencene, the enzymes prompt a chemical reaction that adds oxygen to the orange flavor to turn it into nootkatone.
Micro-organisms and enzymes have more advantages over natural products, as agricultural products can have drought, disease, etc.
And sometimes, using biology to make flavors may be more efficient than the artificial route. But it depends upon how complicated the molecule you want to make.
Micro-organisms or enzymes will also give perfumers to have fine control over their fragrance. By using biotech processes, they can make a unique blend, which is better than the chemical synthesis process.
So which method would one prefer? It depends on the perfume or flavor in question and how it will be used. But whether you’re getting the compound from a microbe, fruit, or artificial sources, researchers may make it into something both safe and tasty.