Superior Quality and Cost Efficiency Characterize Fish Protein Isolate Industry

Feb 04,2020

Fish protein isolate is extracted through a process of precipitation or isoelectric solubilization which is conducted on whole gutted fish. It is most commonly used as a functional food additive with the aim of bolstering amino acids and protein levels for products including meat patties, breads, broths, and soups, among others.

In most cases, byproducts from the fish processing industry are discarded. However, such waste is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Making use of isoelectric precipitation methods allows for better results in extracting fish protein isolate, which is suitable for use in nutraceutical products, for human consumption.

The utilization of byproducts such as roe, scales, viscera, and heads have substantial implications for the economics of the fish processing industry.

As the demand for new nutraceutical products continues to rise, consumer expectations towards such products will also increase, which is in sync with conventional foods in the market. According to analyst forecasts, the demand for nutraceuticals is expected to go up by 20 per cent every year, which is much more than that of the global food industries.

Such contributions aid in the development of seafood products which include fish protein isolate, in addition to ingredients such as salt alternatives, omega -3 oil, and dietary fiber contents.

Membrane Tech Offers Base Protein Ingredient

Major biotech and engineering companies such as Process Technologies, GE Water, and Norscape Biotechnology have developed new membrane filtration technology which can be used for separation of fish ingredient constituents for the fish protein industry.

Fish protein isolates are increasingly being viewed as feasible alternatives to isolates extracted from whey protein. This trend can be attributed to the higher cost effectiveness associated with fish ingredients, which makes it popular among food manufacturers. While fish protein isolate is considered a superior quality ingredient, it is not a very highly priced commodity, accounting for only US$ 4 per kilogram.

The arrival of the new membrane technology is a breakthrough. It allows the fish waste material to be effectively divided into separate streams of biogenic fractions, zero fat proteins, and high fat and protein combinations. The complete removal of oil and fat from the end product also removes the fishy aroma and flavor from the fish protein isolate.

While initially developed for the fish meal industry, to meet the high demand from animal feed sectors, the superior quality of the isolate from such technology allows greater scope of using fish protein isolate in foods suitable for human consumption. With nutritional and food processing benefits, large scale international food manufacturers have taken to incorporating fish protein items in their offerings.

Food Security Applications Grow

Fish protein isolate can also make substantial contributions to global food security, with the higher ability to produce such protein substrates at lower price points. Fish protein isolate is likely to become a mainstream base protein ingredient for people who do not have access to meat sources to meet the rising protein requirements.

In addition, extensive use of fish protein isolate can also mitigate issues in developing economies such as poor infrastructure for processes including refrigeration, and transportation of fresh meat and fish. Further, fish protein can be broadly categorized into 2 forms.

This includes fish protein concentrates, which comprise around 70 per cent of protein and 18 per cent of fat. The second category is fish protein isolates, which are completely free of fat, but provide up to 90 per cent of protein. The flavor profile of the ingredient is of a fish protein hydrolysate. This trend is expected to bolster the case for higher adoption rates in cost effective food products, in a bid to fight malnutrition.

Multiple Food Applications Support Use of Fish Protein Isolate

Fish protein isolates can be used in a similar manner to surimi following dewatering and packing processes. The product mostly comprises water and can contain approximately 80 per cent water, and the quality of the fish protein isolate depends on a number of factors including the processing method, source of the raw material, water content, the pH level and protein levels.

Fish protein isolates are used in the fortification process for fish fillets, with the use of processes such as vacuum tumbling, and static soaking. The injection of fish protein isolate brines are used to increase the yield of fish such as cod and haddock by 20 per cent, thereby bolstering cooking yields. Such processes also help in a better frozen stability of fish fillets, which improves the scope of preservation and logistics.

Fish protein isolate has also found a role in the development of mixtures for breading and battering processes. Fish protein isolate aids in generating superior levels of viscosity for the end product. Similarly, fish protein isolate solutions used for breading and battering also helps in reducing the amount of oil, which goes into fried products.

With increasing health awareness among consumers, and the higher popularity of low-fat, fried seafood products, the demand is for fish protein isolate is expected to remain on an upward trajectory in the years to come.

In addition to these applications, fish protein isolate is also a popular ingredient in ready to eat fish products, which make use of fish protein isolate in addition to spices, vegetables, flour, proteins, and starches. In addition, the use of fish protein isolate in such foods has resulted in superior organoleptic properties, or alternatively, even as emulsifiers.

The use of low value fish species and fish byproducts has become one of the major challenges for operators in the global seafood industry. Fish protein isolate has proven to give out better results in terms of pH shifts in comparison to surimi. The manufacturers of fish protein isolate aim to push this source of protein as a mainstream ingredient in human food products. Consequently, relevant technologies are expected to be commercialized for a large volume of byproducts aimed towards the human food market.

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