Thai researcher wonders if chicken feathers on the menu might fly

Prototypes included ‘chicken nuggets’ and a steak substitute, which received positive reviews from some

Reuters – A Thai researcher keen to recycle waste has begun experiments with a new potential food source: chicken feathers.

“Chicken feather contains protein and if we are able to serve this protein to others in the world, the demand from everyone… will help reduce waste,” researcher Sorawut Kittibanthorn told Reuters this December.

Sorawut is seeking funding to continue his research into how best to convert the nutrient component found in the feathers into a powder that can be transformed into a lean, protein-rich source of edible food.

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Indeed the potential appears huge, given that Sorawut reckons about 2.3 million tons of feathers are being dumped in Europe alone each year.

And with generally higher poultry consumption in Asia, he believes there could be up to 30 per cent more feather waste that could be exploited in the region.

Sorawut, who studied for a master’s of material futures in London, said the idea still needs to go through other research and development phases.

But prototypes including his take on chicken nuggets and a steak substitute have received positive reviews from some.

“You know the texture is very complex and advanced. It’s something you wouldn’t imagine that chicken feathers will be able to improvise into this kind of dish,” said food blogger Cholrapee Asvinvichit, after tucking into “steak” served with gravy, mashed potatoes and a salad. “I really could imagine this (being served) to me in some, like, Michelin star (restaurant), or some fine dining experience.”

Hathairat Rimkeeree, a food sciences professor at Kasesart University, was also pleasantly surprised by the results.

“I think it does have the potential to become an alternative food source in the future.”

Plant-based substitutes for meat have been gaining popularity as more people shift towards vegan or vegetarian diets, amid growing concerns about health risks from eating meat, animal welfare and the environmental hazards of intensive animal farming.

While feather-based foods could not be categorized as vegan or vegetarian, Sorawut feels they should be considered ethical dining.

“I plan to approach the zero-waste restaurants first because even though these dishes are made from poultry waste, it is still a byproduct from animals (we normally consume).”

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