Alan Hahn: 'We noticed it right away... the gluten was gone'

Could mushroom mycelium add a new dimension to the gluten-free market?

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Wheat

Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA at the 2015 IFT show, MycoTechnology CEO Alan Hahn recalls the moment his team discovered that mushroom mycelium (roots) could virtually eliminate the gluten in wheat and other cereal crops.

MycoTechnology's mushroom experts knew that inoculating foods such as coffee beans, stevia, and cocoa beans with liquid mushroom mycelium could remove some of their unwanted bitter compounds. However, its effect on wheat came as a complete surprise, said Hahn.

“It was actually a surprise to us when we went through the process​ [with wheat] the first time... We noticed it right away, that the gluten was gone, so basically, the mushrooms have consumed the gluten protein.”

Grain companies are now working with the Denver-based firm to explore how this discovery could help create new value-added opportunities in the bakery and cereal market, he said.

Mushroom mycelium can reduce or eliminate gluten, lower wheat’s glycemic load, and naturally infuse it with fiber, beta glucans and protein

MycoTechnology’s MycoSmooth​ process can reduce or eliminate gluten, lower wheat’s glycemic load, and naturally infuse it with fiber (chitin), immune-boosting 1-3 1-6 beta glucans and a highly digestible protein with all nine essential amino acids.

And as sales in many grain-based categories such as ready-to-eat breakfast cereal and packaged bakery are sluggish as consumers choose other options, especially at breakfast, marketers are looking for ways to bring consumers back to the category, added Hahn.

How does it work?

During the MycoSmooth process, mushroom mycelium are sprayed onto the wheat in the form of a liquid tissue culture and left to work their magic. During the fermentation process, the mycelium ‘eat’ the gluten and infuse the grain with protein, fiber (chitin) and beta-glucan.

As the mycelium are present within the final food product (they are not just a processing aid), foods made with the grains must include ‘mushroom mycelium’ on the ingredients list​, he said.

According to marketing manager Josh Hahn, third party ELISA testing showed that" MycoTechnology was able to remove 99.9998% of total gluten content​ [from wheat samples tested]. While not 100%, the addition of other ingredients would bring the gluten parts per million (ppm) below the FDA’s guidelines​ [20ppm]." 

Read more about MycoTechnology HERE​ ​and HERE​.

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