Rights: The University of Waikato Published 1 February 2007 Download

Some fibres in vegetable material can cause farting. What are the two ways that scientists at Plant & Food Research are using to remove these fart factors? Do you think scientists should remove the fart factor, or leave it in foods?


Kevin Sutton (Plant & Food Research) One of the other issues with most vegetable materials is they contain fibres which cause flatulence, which a lot of people find embarrassing, or others find quite funny. So we’re looking at the genetics of the plants, how they synthesise the compounds that cause flatulence and how we can remove those, again using very simple processes that would be acceptable to the food industry.

We’ve taken a two-pronged approach to removing the flatulence affect from the vegetable materials. The first is looking at a plant breeding approach. We are looking at the genetics that control the production of the compounds that cause flatulence, and working with the plant breeders to reduce those in the vegetable materials. We’ve also developed a process which allows us to remove those in a very simple and natural way to give us the vegetable materials to include in the foods.

The flatulence factor in most of the plants is a soluble fibre which – yes, it could be useful for the glycaemic load control - but there are other fibres which are not soluble, which have a greater effect, and the process we’ve used which removes the flatulence factors actually leaves most of the healthy fibre that we’d like to maintain in the foods, in place.

The flatulence effect is removed from the vegetable material by a straightforward water extraction of the material, and that removes a lot of the issues with flatulence and colour development and other processing problems which we’ve encountered.