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New Soybean Cracker Is a Snap

April 25, 2000

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Steve Ludwig admits he’s a beef lover who once scoffed at the idea of soybeans on the dinner table.

Ludwig, executive director of the Indiana Soybean Board, now is among those touting the virtues of the humble bean as inventors unveiled SoySnaps, a soybean-fortified cracker.

``I’d rather do this here than in the hospital,″ Ludwig said, referring to soy proteins in the crackers that may fight cholesterol and heart disease.

SoySnaps are the latest creation to come out of the board’s annual ``soybean utilization″ contest that in the past has yielded such novelties as soy-based gelatin, ski wax, lip balm, fire starter and breakfast cereal.

Three Purdue University students came up with the idea for the crackers, after rejecting ideas for soy cheesecake and fruit snacks.

About the size and shape of a Ritz cracker, SoySnaps have the light texture of overdone pizza crust with a tangy, garlic-and-onion flavor.

``They’re similar to a Ritz, but they’re thinner and crispier,″ said Amanda Zeltner, a Purdue junior studying food-process engineering.

The recipe substitutes soy protein for much of the flour used in more traditional crackers.

The crackers aren’t available at any supermarket, but promoters hope to interest manufacturers in the idea. Purdue and the soybean board will share in the profits if SoySnaps ever are mass produced.

Each serving of SoySnaps _ about 12 crackers _ has seven grams of soy protein. Last fall, the federal Food and Drug Administration concluded that foods rich in soy protein may reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease. The FDA recommended that adults consume at least 25 grams of soy protein per day.

As word spreads of soy’s health benefits, consumer demand for soy-based foods is growing, said Sheila Lingle, a consultant for the Indiana Soybean Board.

Where consumers once had to scour health food and specialty stores for soy products, they can now find a variety of soy goods in many mainstream supermarkets. Soy-based meat substitutes and soy milk are two examples, Lingle said.

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ A new chemical could give farmers a chance to pork up their pork chops.

Elanco Animal Health, a division of Eli Lilly and Co., has developed a chemical compound called Paylean that makes pigs grow less fat and more meat. Paylean directs nutrients to loins, hams and other choice cuts and away from fat.

Paylean, the trade name for ractopamine hydrochloride, is thought to be the first feed ingredient to address meat quality.

``It used to be, how to get the animal to grow faster. Then it was animal health,″ said Elanco spokesman Dennis Erpelding. ``This is the next step _ the carcass characteristic.″

Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December after a decade of development, Paylean is a synthetic compound made through organic chemistry. Typical pigs fed the product gain 7 fewer pounds of fat and 11 more pounds of meat, according to Elanco.

And the company claims Paylean has no affect on meat quality. It directs energy away from fat that grows between muscles but not the taste-enhancing marbling within muscles.