One more step towards a “zero waste” poultry industry
NTU Singapore and poultry manufacturing company Leong Hup Singapore collaborated to create what is claimed to be Singapore’s first ‘zero waste’ poultry processing facility. The teams have jointly developed two innovations to recycle waste from poultry processing.
One of the key innovations is to use the keratin from chicken feathers as the packaging material for meat trays, creating a sustainable replacement for synthetic polymers made from petroleum oil.
The collaboration also resulted in another innovation – the conversion of biological waste from poultry farming, such as blood and bone, into an alternative culture medium that could be used to grow cell-based meat.
Professor William Chen, Director of NTU’s Food Science and Technology Program, Co-Lead Industry Collaboration, said: “The project has clearly demonstrated that feathers can no longer be considered waste. Instead, they should be seen as a source of valuable raw materials and an essential part of the circular economy, in which raw materials, components and products lose their value as little as possible. The use of chicken feather fibers in composite materials is a new source of materials that can be economical, environmentally friendly and recyclable. Meanwhile, reusing poultry blood to grow cell-based chicken meat could be a step towards reducing the carbon footprint of the food industry.
Lau Joo Hwa, CEO of Leong Hup Singapore, said, “As one of Singapore’s and Malaysia’s leading poultry suppliers, it is important to future-proof business practices, while improving our sustainability profile. By harnessing NTU’s rich research expertise, particularly with scientists from the university’s Food Science and Technology program, it also has great potential to impact the poultry industry in Southeast Asia. and beyond.
The chicken feathers have been thoroughly washed with distilled water and detergent to remove different kinds of contaminants such as blood stains, oil and grease from the surface. These feather fibers were dried at room temperature (27°C) for four days and cut by a grinding machine. Chicken feather fibers and unsaturated polyester resin were mixed together and placed in glass molds and kept in a fume hood for one day.
In lab tests, the material that used keratin from chicken feathers could withstand nearly twice the force exerted on it, compared to conventional plastic trays used to hold chicken meat.
Poultry blood and by-products of animal and food processing are dense in organic matter and contain high concentrations of growth factors and other nutrients. As the organic waste from poultry processing includes blood, cartilage, skin and bone, it contains amino acids, vitamins, glucose, inorganic salts and growth factors, which are suitable for environmental media. cell culture to grow cell-based meats.
NTU scientists have also successfully extracted these nutrients and developed a solution that has the potential to grow animal cells for lab-grown meat. In recent tests, they have also shown that serum derived from poultry blood and biological matter has the potential to replace fetal bovine serum as a cell-based meat culture medium, as it contains similar concentrations of growth factors and other nutrients.
Chen added, “The cultivation of lab-grown meat has the potential to reduce and even one day end the slaughter of farm animals and the impact of farm animal husbandry on the environment. . But it’s expensive, in part because of the high cost of the medium used to grow the meat. Our collaboration with Leong Hup Singapore allows us to apply innovations developed by NTU’s Food Science and Technology program to address this issue, driving down the price of media, while reusing materials that would otherwise have been discarded.
Lau said Leong Hup is currently testing the innovations at its Singapore factory and plans to implement the products it developed with NTU at its overseas factories in Malaysia and Southeast Asia, from here. 2023.