Big Food Companies Stuffing Everything With Pea Protein

Do you like peas? Soon, you might be gobbling them daily without even realizing it. Manufacturers are adding powdered pea protein to a surprising variety of foods. Crackers? Pasta? Chicken nuggets? They’ve all been made with powdered pulses: legumes like peas, lentils, and chickpeas. You might start seeing pulse powders in even more baked goods in coming years.

One pulse-infused product has already hit mainstream store shelves: some varieties of
Triscuit’s new rice-based crackers use red beans to increase the snacks’ protein and fiber, and to polish its health halo a little bit. Most Americans are at least a little health-conscious, but not so conscious that we’re going to do anything crazy like not eat Triscuits.

Or pasta. Americans just can’t eat enough protein, but if we can get it in the form of chickpea-infused spaghetti, that’s what we’re going to do. Barilla has put these on mainstream store shelves, too: the Barilla Plus line contains a blend of pulse flours meant to add more protein.

The powders can make a logical substitute for wheat flour and even eggs in food products. General Mills is using yellow pea protein in a variety of Larabar, and the

The biggest issue in using these products is texture and freshness. Using pulses reduces the shelf life on some products, and also can make them, well, kind of dry.

You Will Eat Your Peas Now as Big Food Binges on Protein [Bloomberg News]

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  1. ResNullum says:

    So, what about people who are allergic to peas? Do they need to check everything they eat, even if there is no good reason why it would contain peas?

    • Pretty much. And if you’re allergic to any one of the plants in that family, Barilla isn’t going to tell you which ones they’re using specifically.

      • ResNullum says:

        Well, of course: profits above consumer health.

      • xvdgry57 says:

        This has been the issue with soy: it’s in everything and hides inside other ingredients where the use of soy is not required by law to be disclosed.
        Vegetable Oil for example can really contain ANY plant sourced oil in any proportion. Logistically this makes it the cheapest by the gallon as at least one commodity will be cheap. Naturally most industrial scale processed food will contain some percentage of soy oil even if the manufacturer doesn’t know explicitly how much or if at all.
        Bakeries are the worst offenders – bread the most ubiquitous food staple and most of it in the world contains soy.

        Eventually I learned that I was going to have to bake bread at home for my wife. Not for quality or any culinary superiority but simply so I could control the ingredients.

        • mobafett says:

          You make an excellent case for why ingredients, and the sources of ingredients, need to be labeled for those of us with allergies, and those of us who care about what our food is made of.
          Unlabeled corn is the bane of my existence. I would contend that it’s hidden in more things than soy, which might be a close second. Corn starch, for example, is used to dust plastic packaging for things like paper products, you know, like toilet paper. How’s that for a nasty surprise?

    • MarthaGaill says:

      But that goes for any person who could be allergic to anything. There’s a lot of filler and a lot of ingredients that go into anything. If you find you’re allergic to soy, you read labels for soy ingredients, if you’re allergic to dairy you read for dairy. If you’re allergic to peas you read for peas, which I’ve never heard of anyone being alleric to them, so seems pretty rare.

      • ResNullum says:

        Correct, but we’ve become used to soy and peanuts being potential components in what we eat. Peas are unexpected, and as Laura pointed out, one wouldn’t always know they were eating them.

        Pea allergies are usually coupled with general legume allergies, and they are rare, but peanut allergies were also once rare.