Quality characteristics of meat analogs through the incorporation of textured vegetable protein and Tenebrio molitor larvae in the presence of transglutaminase

Yea-Ji Kim1, Jung-Heon Kim1, Ji Yoon Cha1, Tae-Kyung Kim1, Hae Won Jang2, Dong-Hyun Kim3, Yun-Sang Choi1,*
Author Information & Copyright
1Research Group of Food Processing, Korea Food Research Institute, Wanju 55365, Korea
2Department of Food Science and Biotechnology, Sungshin Women's University, Seoul 01133, Korea
3Food Research, Meat Bank Corporation, Korea
*Corresponding Author: Yun-Sang Choi. E-mail:

© Copyright 2024 Korean Society for Food Science of Animal Resources. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Received: Feb 15, 2024 ; Revised: Mar 04, 2024 ; Accepted: Mar 21, 2024

Published Online: Mar 25, 2024


Alternative protein sources with greater nutritional value and a lower environmental footprint have recently attracted interest in the production of meat substitutes. However, it is required that these alternatives mimic the texture and structure of meat. This study investigated varying ratios of textured vegetable proteins (TVP) to Tenebrio molitor larvae (brown mealworm; TM) with the addition of transglutaminase (TG) to determine the quality characteristics of these emulsions. The results demonstrated low protein solubility of the emulsions as TVP content increased. Furthermore, when the proportion of TM larvae was high, the TG-treated emulsion had a low pH. Additionally, when there was a high TM larvae ratio to TVP in the TG treatment, the emulsions demonstrated better thermal stability and water-holding capacity (WHC). Regarding the rheological properties of the emulsion, both the frequency-dependent storage coefficient (G') and loss coefficient (G’’) increased as the proportion of TVP in the emulsion increased with and without the addition of TG. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) analyses demonstrated two protein denaturation peaks in all treatments, with high peak temperatures for both treatments with a high proportion of TM larvae. The hardness and chewiness of the emulsion were highest in the treatment (T6 and T8) with TG, and the gumminess of the emulsion was greatest when TM only or when equal ratios of TVP and TM were treated with TG, respectively. In conclusion, the addition of TM larval to TVP with TG improves the overall texture of the protein mixture, making it a suitable meat alternative.

Keywords: transglutaminase; textured vegetable protein; edible insect; structure; emulsion