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Battle of the Soys

ISP vs. TSP: Which One is Your Processor Using?

Perusing the ingredient list of many commodity chicken products, you have probably come across the abbreviations ISP and TSP and wondered: What are those things, anyway?

The straight forward answer is that Isolated Soy Protein and Textured Vegetable Protein are both alternate protein products that are added to items like chicken nuggets and patties to enhance their nutritional value. They are both derived from soy beans and added as a low fat, low calorie protein source. But what’s the difference?

The difference is important on many levels. While both are processed soy bean products, they fall into two completely different categories. ISP is an isolate, consisting of approximately 90% protein and 10% carbohydrate, whereas TSP is a concentrate with only a 70/30% protein to carbohydrate ratio. In the simplest terms, this means that ISP does its intended job better than TSP—it provides more protein with fewer calories and less fat.

The differences between the two can also be seen—or rather, smelled—in the kitchen. When cooked, carbohydrates give off distinct flavors and smells. Due to the disparity in carbohydrate proportion between ISP and TSP, items made with TSP often emit a “cerealy” odor that has contributed to “soy bias” among students.

In addition to these basic differences, ISP offers benefits unique to soy protein products. It is low in fat, saturated fat, and contains no trans fat, while also being cholesterol and lactose-free. It also has a PDCAAS (the standard scale for measuring protein quality) of 100, which places it among other high quality proteins like egg and milk.

So what are those things, anyway? They’re a significant piece of the puzzle when choosing commodity protein products.

Which one does your processor use?