US plant protein extraction company Burcon NutraScience Corporation has filed a patent application to cover ten functional properties of canola protein isolate. The company hopes that the patent will make canola protein isolate a valuable ingredient in both food and non-food uses.
Burcon reports that the filing is potentially significant because it provides a new layer of protection over and above Burcon's existing patents, which cover the process required to commercially produce canola protein isolate. "We believe that we are the first to have a viable process to commercially produce a canola protein isolate," said Johann Tergesen, Burcon's President. "The novel set of proteins produced by our process provides us with what we believe is a wide-open space in the more protective patenting areas of application and composition patents," he continued.
Burcon stressed in a statement that protein ingredients are valued by the food processing industry for their nutritional and functional properties. However, it is the functional properties of a protein ingredient that make it particularly valuable.
Some of the more valuable functional properties of protein ingredients in food processing include improved texture and "mouth feel" (such as soy in veggie-burgers); formation of gels (egg white in processed hams); absorption of juices released during cooking (soy in hot dogs); and the stabilisation of fat emulsions (milk protein in ice cream).
Proteins are employed for a broad spectrum of functional attributes, such as viscosity, water-binding, gelation, cohesion, adhesion, elasticity and emulsification.
Burcon is currently focusing its efforts on developing the world's first commercial canola protein, Puratein. Canola, recognised for its nutritional qualities, is the second-largest oilseed crop in the world after soybeans. Burcon's aim is to develop Puratein to participate with soy, dairy and egg proteins in the expanding protein ingredient market, with potential uses in prepared foods, nutritional supplements and personal care products.