Lick and light: How one Indian firm has created a glow-in-the-dark ice cream and lollipop with jellyfish protein

By Guan Yu Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

The enzyme is derived from Aequorea, a green fluorescent protein commonly found in fluorescing marine animals such as jellyfish. ©Cream & More
The enzyme is derived from Aequorea, a green fluorescent protein commonly found in fluorescing marine animals such as jellyfish. ©Cream & More

Related tags: India, Ice cream, Lollipop, Bioluminescent

India-based firm Rexofa Food Technology has developed a bioluminescence ice cream and lollipop that glows-in-the-dark when licked.

The reaction is based on an enzyme luciferase, which when licked by the tongue at a neutral pH of seven, reacts with its substrate luciferin and raising the pH level, creating a bioluminescent reaction.

It will glow in the shade of green according to the company.

Bioluminescence is the process by which living organisms emit light that is visible to other organisms, and the reaction is commonly found in fireflies, a type of mushroom (roridomyces phyllostachydis), and jellyfish (Aequorea).

Glow-in-the-dark confectionery

According to Sapan Purani, managing director at Rexofa Food Technology, bioluminescence food products are different from fluorescence products which glow under UV light, such as tonic water which contains quinine.

Bioluminescence does not require any UV light, so it is recommended to consume the ice cream and lollipop products in the dark for visible effects.

The products are made from typical ingredients such as sucrose, starch, milk solids, as well as luciferase and luciferin.

The enzyme is derived from Aequorea, a green fluorescent protein commonly found in fluorescing marine animals such as jellyfish.

According to Purani, the aequorin protein is sourced from China. About 1kg of ice cream or lollipop requires 10g of this protein, which he explained was cost-intensive initially.

Aequorin protein usually costs US$800 for 1mg. To make it a commercially viable product, we hired a biotechnology firm who did research on this problem. It took us 1.5 years to develop this cost-effective solution with better shelf life​,” he said.

The lollipop has a 2-year shelf life at room temperature, while the ice cream must be refrigerated with a shelf life of 6 months.

Other innovative products

The products are marketed under the Cream & More brand including other innovative products such as colour changing ice cream containing butterfly pea flower extract which changes colour from blue to pink with the addition of citrus.

Under the Cream & More brand, there are also freeze-dried ice cream, pop corn ice cream in which popcorn is coated with a layer of ice cream, a voice changer ice cream which adds gas molecules and changes the density of air resulting in a deeper or higher pitch when consumed.

The brand also makes a range of cold pressed juices. Cream & More operates 12 stores in India, from which all products are made at its manufacturing facility in Godhra.

Rexofa Food Technology also develops products for ice cream brands.

Expansion and NPD

Cream & More is launching the brand in the US later this year with its innovative range of ice cream products.

In terms of other new products, Rexofa Food Technology is currently planning to make ice cream in the stratosphere using a weather balloon to achieve heights of 20 to 30km where the temperature is -55 to -40°C.

The company is also in the plant-based food space, having recently launched the Caldo & Froid brand, developing plant-based alternatives of egg, kebab, nugget, and cheese.

Related topics: Formulation, South Asia, Confectionery

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