“Tastes like the real thing!”
That was the consensus among Minister for Education Mr Ong Ye Kung, NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye, NUS Senior Deputy President and Provost Professor Ho Teck Hua, and NUS Chairman Mr Hsieh Fu Hua as they tasted pieces of "chicken" made from plant proteins at the WIL@NUS Corporate Laboratory on 17 September, as part of Mr Ong’s recent visit to NUS
The lab is a research partnership between NUS and agribusiness company Wilmar International Limited (WIL). WIL@NUS taps on Wilmar’s industry experience and NUS’ clinical and academic knowledge to further research and applications of functional foods and bioengineering.
Aside from the plant-based “chicken” nuggets, the delegation also sampled barbeque “chicken” buns, brain boosting cookies, peanut milk and chocolate hazelnut pralines. These products demonstrate one of WIL @ NUS’ research focuses — to produce health-promoting foods that do not compromise on taste and flavour.
Mr Ong toured the food lab, which conducts clinical evaluations of functional food ingredients and food products, with the view of using food as medicine to improve health outcomes. He had the opportunity to take a look at the state-of-the-art food production equipment such as a blast freezer, a MobiChef cooking station, UHT and retort sterilisation machines, a multipurpose cooker and a combi oven. He also observed the lab’s researchers testing food for pH and water activity before they are packaged for use in the lab’s clinical trials.
The tour later took Mr Ong to WIL@NUS’ other research cluster, where industrial enzymes and biochemicals are biologically produced. The lab’s research in this area is part of a broader transition towards sustainable bio-based economies. Replacing chemical processes with biological ones in the manufacture of enzymes and biochemicals for the food industry increases efficiency and cost savings, and improves taste.