Science Round-Up: Who needs meat or skin to make the perfect sausage?

Good news for mice and leopards, but no such luck for Denmark’s pigs

Demand for vegan sausages has grown immensely in recent years, but none have yet overcome the need for a skin (photo:
October 28th, 2020 5:22 pm| by Luke Roberts

Alongside Copenhagen food producer Rootly, researchers from DTU have been working to develop a recipe for a skinless vegan sausage.

Such a recipe would allow the producer to reuse the pulp that is currently discarded, but faces the problem of how to retain that classic sausage-shape when cooking.

Optimised texture
DTU Food Institute has the capability and knowledge to alter the chemical structure of ingredients to achieve the desired properties.

Putting this to use, they have already developed a prototype plant-based sausage, without a skin, which has an optimised texture that prevents it from losing its shape when cooked.

Mice respite
In recent years, the EU has introduced increasingly stricter requirements concerning the use of animal testing, and yet more animals than ever are finding themselves being experimented on. This is something researchers are looking to reduce, including Annette Bauer-Brandl at the University of Southern Denmark. As an alternative, computers are believed to be able to take on a great deal of the workload, saving time and improving animal welfare.

Teens breathe easy
Babies that are born premature run a greater risk of respiratory infections and end up consuming more antibiotics than their non-premature peers. This imbalance quickly fades, however, as they develop into teenagers, a new study reveals. Over a million children were included in the data reaching this conclusion, and yet the explanation as to why this occurs is not yet fully understood.

Leopards on the up
As leopard populations decline the world over, one researcher from the University of Copenhagen has made the shock discovery that in northern China their numbers are actually rising. In 2016, 88 leopards were recorded on the Loess Plateau, but just a year later this figure stood at 110, with researchers suspecting a further increase since. The reason why the giant cat has found its way back into the area is most likely the result of several efforts by the Chinese government, including a five-year reforestation plan launched in 2015.

Pig powder
The development of a new method at the University of Copenhagen has allowed researchers to transform pigs’ blood into tasteless protein powder. The powder could be of use in the food industry as a new sustainable food source. Currently, 60,000 tonnes of pigs’ blood is left over from Danish slaughterhouses every year, but this new use could see it being turned into a dietary supplement that, among other things, could help the elderly get enough protein.

Ancient inks
The ancient Egyptians were writing in ink almost 3,000 years ago, and new research from the University of Copenhagen has shed new light on their techniques: revealing that lead was likely used to dry the ink on their papyri. It was a technique also used in 15th century Europe, leading researchers to call for a re-examination of all these old techniques, as such practices may have been far more widespread than first thought.