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The Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS)—A Concept for Describing Protein Quality in Foods and Food Ingredients: A Critical Review

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Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Score (PDCAAS) is discussed. PDCAAS is now widely used as a routine assay for protein quality evaluation, replacing the more traditional biological methods [e.g., measurement of the Protein Efficiency Ratio (PER) in rats]. PDCAAS is based on comparison of the essential amino acid content of a test protein with that of a reference essential amino acid pattern and a correction for differences in protein digestibility as determined using a rat assay. Although PDCAAS is a rapid and useful method, it often shows discrepancies when compared to PER values. These discrepancies relate to the following issues: uncertainty about the validity of reference patterns, invalidity of correction for fecal (versus ileal) digestibility, truncation of PDCAAS values to 100%, failure to obtain full biological response after supplementation of the limiting essential amino acid, discrepancies between protein and amino acid digestibility, effects of processing on protein quality, and effects of the presence of antinutritional factors in the matrix containing the protein. Part of the discrepancy between PDCAAS and PER can be overcome by modifications of PDCAAS. This article describes some proposed modifications and puts forward the suggestion that the rat protein fecal digestibility assay be replaced by an in vitro ileal amino acid digestibility assay based on a computer-controlled gastrointestinal model.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: TNO Nutrition and Food Research, PO Box 360, 3700 AJ Zeist, The Netherlands

Publication date: May 1, 2005

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of AOAC INTERNATIONAL publishes refereed papers and reviews in the fields of chemical, biological and toxicological analytical chemistry for the purpose of showcasing the most precise, accurate and sensitive methods for analysis of foods, food additives, supplements and contaminants, cosmetics, drugs, toxins, hazardous substances, pesticides, feeds, fertilizers and the environment available at that point in time. The scope of the Journal includes unpublished original research describing new analytical methods, techniques and applications; improved approaches to sampling, both in the field and the laboratory; better methods of preparing samples for analysis; collaborative studies substantiating the performance of a given method; statistical techniques for evaluating data. The Journal will also publish other articles of general interest to its audience, e.g., technical communications; cautionary notes; comments on techniques, apparatus, and reagents.
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