Food scientists upcycle bread waste into non-dairy probiotic drink

Posted: 14 April 2020 | | No comments yet

This new beverage is currently the only known probiotic drink made from a bread base, according to the NUS team.

Food scientists upcycle bread waste into probiotic drink

Surplus bread is considered a major waste problem for bakeries and food retailers. While some unsold bread is donated to charities, most are resold as low-value animal feed. A team of food scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS) looked to create a solution to reduce bread waste by using a novel fermentation process to ‘upcycle’ surplus bread into a beverage fortified with gut-friendly microorganisms.

The beverage can be stored at room temperature for up to six weeks while maintaining high counts of live probiotics to deliver maximum health benefits.

The research team behind the patented zero-waste process comprises project leader Associate Professor Liu Shao Quan, Dr Toh Mingzhan and Nguyen Thuy Linh from the Department of Food Science and Technology at the NUS Faculty of Science.

“I usually cannot finish a loaf of bread before the expiry date. It is a waste to discard the nutrients in bread, so as a food science student, I was motivated to find a way to repurpose surplus bread by upcycling it into something delicious and nutritious,” shared Linh.

The NUS team tested different types of bread, and decided to focus on white sandwich bread as it is commonly available in supermarkets.

To create the bread-based probiotic drink, white bread is first cut into small pieces and blended with water to get a bread slurry. After the slurry is pasteurised, probiotic bacteria and yeast are added, and the mixture is left to ferment. The entire process takes about one day.

“Most probiotic drinks are dairy-based and unsuitable for people with lactose intolerance. Our bread-based probiotic beverage is non-dairy, making it an attractive option for this group of consumers,” explained Dr Mingzhan.

The new bread-based probiotic drink can be stored at room temperature for up to six weeks and maintains at least one billion live probiotic cells per serving, which is the current recommendation by the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics to deliver maximum health benefits.

The NUS team has filed a patent for the zero-waste process of making the bread-based probiotic beverage. They are now looking to work with industry partners to commercialise the drink.

“There is currently a lack of non-dairy probiotic food and beverage options in the market, so our refreshing and healthy new product will help to fill this gap. Our invention also enables bread makers to give their unsold products a new lease of life. We are confident that the bread-based probiotic beverage will have a strong appeal to those who are environmentally conscious,” said Assoc Prof Quan.

Video Credit: National University of Singapore.