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Researching flavors for meat alternatives to endangered fish species

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Category: research Video duration: Researching flavors for meat alternatives to endangered fish species
Cierra James, a graduate student in the Department of Food Science and Technology, is working to analyze the compounds that give Yellowfin and Bluefin tuna their flavor.  The idea is to create a plant and cell culture based meat alternative for the endangered fish.
I'm working on a project that is trying to understand the flavor compounds and Bluefin and Yellowfin tuna. So that they can be used to create a plant-based and cell cultured based meat product. There's a really big reason to have this or tuna in general, I should say, especially because according to the UN it's the first most consumed and the second most over fished fish in the world. We have to be careful because when we're taking them out of the ecosystem, it also changes the balance of the ecosystem in the ocean. Which could have also other detrimental effects. So it's really important that we come up with solutions that will help feed us and help protect the ocean at the same time. The company that I'm working with, Finless foods, they actually are trying to create both a plant-based and a cell culture based seafood product. The data that I'm collecting today will help both. I'm trying to determine which compound specifically are responsible for the recognition that we have when we're like, "Oh, this is tuna." I feel like I'm helping solve a complex problem, especially for fish. Because for cell-based fish, it's very new. And while it's very new, once they kind of figure out the ingredients to kind of get it running, flavor is going to be one of the most important concepts to really get consumers to accept it. So I really am happy to be helping, even if it's only in its early stages, helping to come up with a solution that will help ultimately create the best finished product. I think it's important to realize that, while this is really kind of like this really groundbreaking research and it's kind of in its infancy. I do really think that at some point it could be a significant part of our diet. I don't think it'll ever fully overtake our diet, but I think even just eliminating some of the pressure that we put on the ocean can allow it to correct itself. To give us a better world for everyone.