SCPs are the form of proteins extracted from unicellular organisms hence the name single-cell proteins. As the world is bombarding with the food crisis, SCPs are one of the most affordable and easy methods in use to produce quality proteins. From the last 3 decades, the population has been drastically increasing but the production of food is declining; as a result, world is witnessing a huge gap between the production and the consumption of the food. Children in some of the nations are still suffering from malnutrition as they purely rely on the traditional plant and animal proteins. Many of the protein sources lack quality, and also they take a very long time for their synthesis.
Importance and Sources of SCPs
Experiments have proved that a cow weighing 250 kg can produce 200 g of proteins in a day; it is not a good number while considering the ratio between the protein production and the bodyweight of the cow. On the contrary, microbes such as Methylophilus methylotrophs can proportionately yield more protein than that of a cow. This is because microorganisms have high biomass compared to other organisms. We can produce about 25 tons of protein out of the day to day wastes we collect. Single-cell proteins (SCP) refers to the edible unicellular microorganisms in which the biomass obtained is used as an alternative source to protein-rich foods like animal proteins. SCPs can be prepared out of the mixed cultures of algae, fungi, yeasts, and bacteria that are palatable and suitable for human consumption. As a scientific logic, it takes around 3-10 kg of grain that equals 1 kg of meat production by an animal, but in either case, expenses are high. As an alternative source of proteins, single-cell protein (SCP) is effective. Scientists are making every effort to produce microbial biomass using low-cost substrates and microbes like Spirulina. Spirulina is used in many energy drinks and they can be grown in the wastewater, straw, molasses, animal manure as well as on the sewage. However, in most cases, SCPs have to be subjected to remove the excess of nucleic acids to guarantee their safety. But the good thing is that SCPs have a high-quality protein and low fats. Some of the most common microbes used as SCP producers are Cyanobacteria – Spirulina, bacteria – Methylophilus methylotrophs, yeasts – Candida utilize and filamentous fungi – Fusarium gramiearum.
Advantages of SCP
It is very rich in high-quality protein and has considerably less fat content.
It helps the food industry by diminishing the burden on the traditional agricultural production systems.
Since SCPs production uses industrial wastes as the raw material, it can minimize the environmental pollution by not allowing the waste being stagnated.
SCPs can be produced in the laboratories throughout the year. This will ensure the production cycle irrespective of the season.
Disadvantages of Single-Cell Protein
The presence of high nucleic acids content results in the excessive production of toxins such as uric acid.
In some cases, the excessive consumption of SCPs may result in kidney stones and gout ( joint disorder).
Some of the secondary toxic metabolites produced by SCPs can cause Hypersensitivity and other skin reactions.
The initial investment for high-quality SCPs is high because sophisticated machinery is required for SCPs.
SCPs have high nucleic acid content in their biomass makes it difficult for consumption as it may lead to gastrointestinal problems.
The biomass sometimes cause an allergic reaction if the digestive system recognizes it as a foreign product.
Mechanism of production
SCPs can be produced by subjecting the wastes, straw, cannery, residues from alcohol to undergo chemical processing. Processing is done by passing electricity to them and allowing to dehydrate below10%. The process takes more efforts and time because the amount of SCPs can be hardly 5% of the total raw material. However, the food industry uses centrifugation, flotation, precipitation, coagulation, and filtration to enhance the filtration rate.