The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report, published earlier this month, reiterated that the Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIAAS) is “preferable” to Protein Digestibility Correct Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) as “the accepted protein and amino acid quality evaluation method.”
It concluded that the DIAAS is “potentially recognizable at least” by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, and that adoption of the method by Codex would be “advantageous."
Suzane Leser, head of nutrition at Volac, called the Bangalore Report a “very positive step to affirm DIAAS, especially as protein quality gains momentum in Europe.”
“For the industry, the most important development is that it confirms the need for an accurate method that can be used by agencies to regulate protein quality in foods,” Leser told DairyReporter.com.
“…there is no doubt that by changing from PDCAAS to DIAAS we will be able to give better information to consumers and, very importantly, ensure that high protein quality is always maintained in the end product, regardless of market pressures.”
"Superiority of dairy proteins"
DIAAS measures the oro-ileal nitrogen balance by calculating the digestibility of individual amino acids in a section of the small intestine called the ileum. PDCAAS instead uses crude faecal digestibility values to measure the oro-faecal nitrogen balance.
FAO first recommended DIAAS as a replacement for PDCAAS in a March 2013 report.
The Bangalore Report (Research Approaches and Methods for Evaluating Protein Quality of Human Foods) is the product of a follow-up FAO Working Group meeting in India in March 2014.
Using DIAAS, FAO researchers discovered that dairy proteins could deliver up to 30% more amino acid than plant sources, such as soy isolates.
Unsurprisingly, the dairy sector threw its weight behind DIAAS, which it said demonstrates the "superiority of dairy proteins."
The European Natural Soyfoods Association (ENSA) meanwhile said the finding was only meaningful for the malnourished.
Benefits "not restricted to dairy"
Commenting on the Bangalore Report, the Soy Nutrition Institute (SNI) said: "Until the required data collection and validation of methods is complete, the methods described in this report are not ready for implementation."
The Soyfoods Association of North America (SANA) added that because "many cultures depend on plant-based foods as their primary source of calories and protein" it is "critical that any method to evaluate protein quality recognizes the amino acid contributions of these foods to populations worldwide."
Leser insisted, however, that the protein industry as a whole stands to benefit.
"It is now two years since DIAAS was proposed, and during this time we have gained detailed understanding of the impact it could have, to conclude that it can open many opportunities for the protein industry, not restricted to dairy," said Leser.
“For example, as protein blends are increasingly used to reach certain markets, the biggest opportunity is in DIAAS enabling these blends to make the most out of the strengths of each protein source, without compromising the nutritional quality of the end product," she added.