Open Menu

Methods to Assess Protein Quality

Providing nutrition companies and the public with an understanding of how we allocate ingredients will become important as our global population grows and access to information increases.

Investigator(s)

Principal investigator: Anna-Kate Shoveller

What challenge does "Methods to Assess Protein Quality" address?

There are different methodologies for determining protein quality of human food. The protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) was adopted by the FAO/WHO in 1993 as the preferred method for determining protein quality. Digestible indispensable amino acid score (DIAAS) has been suggested as a better estimate of protein quality as it incorporates individual ileal digestibility values for each indispensable amino acid and different amino acid requirements across life stages. These methodologies can also be used to allocate ingredients that best meet different species amino acid requirements and lead to better decision-making frameworks to select ingredients across the industries that provide food for humans, companion animals, aquatic animals, and agricultural animals.

How will this research address the challenge?

This project brings together Canadian experts on protein quality across animal species and for in vitro methodologies to assess protein digestibility and bioavailability. The experts will provide reviews focused on: 1) Contrast of the methods used in different species and the idiosyncracies in digestion and metabolism in these animals that may add variability to measurements, 2) A mathematical comparison of digestive capacity and differences in amino acid requirements across species, and 3) An opinion paper to take review #1 and #2 and make tangible recommendations to the Canadian government.

Food from Thought principal investigator Kate Shoveller and postdoc Wilfredo Mansillo sitting behind a computer in a lab.

Food from Thought principal investigator Kate Shoveller and postdoc Wilfredo Mansillo review data showing indirect calorimetry in swine (such as oxygen utilization and carbon dioxide production)

What impact will the project have on agriculture?

The path forward for protein quality assessments will become paramount with a growing global human population. Optimization of allocation of foods across the food system also underpins sustainability of our food system.

Key messages

Providing nutrition companies and the public with an understanding of how we allocate ingredients will become important as our global population grows and access to information increases. In our next series of steps in this pipeline, we plan on finding methods to communicate these ideas to the public so that they understand how and why different animals need different types of food and how we can respect our earth by ensuring we use our food with fore-thought.

Other information

Partners: 2018 grant of Swine Cluster 3 of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Canadian Agricultural Partnership, $322,161 dedicated to “Comparison of methodologies to measure protein quality and the assessment of novel pulse grains” and supported by Saskatchewan Pulse Growers.

Collaborators and students: Guelph post doctoral lead: Dr. Wilfredo Mansilla, Co-authors: Drs Elijah Kiarie, Mike Rogers (University of Guelph), Dr. Raja Elango (University of British Columbia), Jim House (University of Manitoba), Chris Mariangeli (Pulse Canada), Samara Foissey (Loblaw).

Explore our other research