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CAFNR Works to Improve Sustainability, Appeal of ‘Soy Chicken’

It's well known that cholesterol-friendly, soybean-based food is good for our hearts. But few meat substitutes made from soy are raved about on the Food Network. While the ersatz materials can be made to taste like the real thing, they usually feel a little funny in the mouth.

That could change soon. Fu-Hung Hsieh, a University of Missouri professor of biological engineering and food science at the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, is finishing a project to create a soy product that looks, feels, pulls apart and, most importantly, chews like real chicken.

In the research, funded by the USDA and the Illinois-Missouri Biotechnology Alliance, Hsieh (pronounced "Shea") is doing more than adding chicken flavor and food colorings to a lump of soy protein. He has developed a process that takes soy, something that usually chews like a lump of spaghetti, and simulates the fibrous qualities of a chicken breast.

If picked up by industry, the product could provide shoppers a low cost alternative to the white meat. It would also allow consumers to more easily add soy—known for its healthy qualities—to their diets without giving up any dining satisfaction.

Image courtesy of Marketplace.