NextGen TALKS Proteins – Jóhanna Elín Ólafsdóttir

Interview with the Next Generation Students!

Can you please introduce yourself?

My name is Jóhanna and I am finishing my master thesis in Food Science at the University of Iceland in collaboration with Matís in June of 2022. My final project during my bachelor’s was also involving the NextGenProteins project. It was about the regulatory environment surrounding the novel proteins. So, I have been involved with the NextGenProteins project since the spring of 2020.

Can you explain to us what you did during your internship?

For my master thesis I have been developing vegetarian food with the addition of microalgae and single cell proteins to increase the protein content of the product. My main objective was to produce prototypes with acceptable sensory characteristics, by using for example masking agents.

Were you aware of the need for alternative proteins before working on the NextGenProteins project?

No, there was not a big emphasis on protein consumption during my bachelor studies. So, I learned about the need for alternative protein production, such as from insect, microalgae, and single cells, while working on the project.

Would you be willing to eat food products with microalgae, insect or single cell proteins in the future?

Yes, because of my experience with the project I am more willing to eat food with novel proteins. I think the use of these proteins is important to reduce the need for traditional animal proteins. I look forward to changes in regulations regarding insects where they will be permitted for use in food. I am certain we will soon see products in grocery stores with these kinds of novel proteins.

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