Biorefining of liquid insect fractions by microfiltration to increase functionality

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Insects are gaining attention as sustainable protein sources, necessitating the evaluation of gentle processing techniques for decontamination and fractionation of edible insects. Microfiltration was shown to be an effective alternative to thermal treatments for microbial decontamination of soluble insect protein. In this study, mealworm and cricket fractions extracted at pH 3 and 8, obtained through a microfiltration (0.2 μm polyethersulphone membrane) process, were assessed. This microfiltration process yielded a cream layer, a retentate containing protein aggregates, and a decontaminated permeate containing smaller-sized proteins (mostly <75 kDa). Microfiltration improved the permeates’ foamability to values higher than whey protein isolate (215–317% vs. 163%), while the retentates retained the gelling properties of up to ≈5000 Pa. Additionally, stable lipid droplets resembling plant-based oleosomes were recovered from the cream layer. This study shows that microfiltration is promising for simultaneous decontamination and fractionation, providing distinct fractions for diverse food applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111821
JournalJournal of Food Engineering
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024


  • Fractionation
  • House cricket
  • Lesser mealworm
  • Max. 6): insect
  • Mild processing
  • Oleosomes


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