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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mizzou vs. Match: The Soy Chicken Battle Is On!

Posted By on Tue, Feb 9, 2010 at 4:38 PM

Last summer, Riverfront Times reported on Match, a groundbreaking meat substitute invented right here in St. Louis. Match comes in six different flavors, including beef, chicken and pork, and it has been heralded as the best artificial meat on the market.

Now it has an in-state challenger, at least in the chicken department.

  • top photo Jennifer Silverberg, bottom photo courtesy University of Missouri
Fu-Hung Hsieh, a professor of biological engineering and food science at the University of Missouri's School of Agriculture, has invented his own soy poultry. According to a news release from Mizzou, "Hsieh has developed a process that makes the soy product simulate the fibrous quality of a chicken breast."

Match merely simulates ground chicken. Point: Mizzou. (Though the verdict could also depend on one's feelings about ground chicken.)

The production and composition of the two products differs as well. Match is composed of a combination of soy and wheat gluten. The components simulate different parts of the animal, such as blood and muscle, and are mixed together.

The Mizzou "chicken" is exclusively soy, which, again according to the press release, "goes through an extrusion cooking process that uses water, heat and pressure while pushing the mixture through a cylinder with two augurs."

Advantage: Neither.

Though Hsieh received funding from his product from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Illinois-Missouri Biotechnology Alliance, the founder of Match, Allison Burgess, has received funding from...herself.

The Mizzou product, as yet nameless, is not available for purchase anywhere. So far Hsieh has published his research in a trio of scholarly journals while he continues to conduct taste tests and refine his formula.

Point: Match. 

So the score appears, in chess-tournament parlance, 1-1/2 to 1-1/2. But for the moment, advantage Match: it's the only game in town.

Gut Check is, however, looking forward to a taste test. We've got a request in to Hsieh for a sample. Stay tuned.

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