HomeInnovationFishmeal, a huge unexpressed potential

Fishmeal, a huge unexpressed potential

The agri-food policies of every country in the world – today, at least in theory, focused on food safety nutritional security – do not yet seem to have given adequate attention to fishmeal for human consumption. An insight.

1) Food security e nutritional security. Premise

'Repurposing food and agricultural policy support to make healthy diets more affordable' is the mantra preached in the last three editions of the SOFI annual report (State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World) of FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP. SOFI 2022 reports that

– at least 3,1 billion people in 2020 were unable to afford the costs of a healthy and nutritious diet, even though it is indispensable to human health and well-being (SDG 3),

– in 2021, an estimated 29,3% of the global population (2,3 billion people) had problems with food safety and 11,7% (923,7 million) had severe problems accessing food. (1)

2) Research and innovation

A key recommendation from UN agencies to the governments of 'rethink how to reallocate existing public budgets to make them more effective and efficient in reducing the cost of nutritious food. To increase the availability and affordability of healthy, sustainable diets, leaving no one behind'. (SOFI 2022, Conclusions).

Research and innovation they play a crucial role in promoting efficient use of the limited resources available. The Horizon Europe 2021-2027 program has in fact dedicated 8,952 billion euros to research and innovation on 'food, bioeconomy, natural resources, agriculture and the environment'. With interventions also aimed at international cooperation, starting with Africa.

3) Circular economy, fight against food waste, upcycling

The efficiency in the use of resources it must include the secondary flows of materials, in a logic of circular economy and the fight against food waste already in the phases prior to distribution (so-called food loss).

Get protein and various nutrients from co-products from other supply chains is the big goal. Upcycling of plant materials in mushrooms edible and nutritious, sugar molasses in microalgae, organic waste into black soldier fly and other edible insects.

4) Fish supply chain, upcycling scraps and fishmeal

The project  research project #EcoeFISHent – ​​in which our team participates, in the Horizon Europe program – is dedicated to the recovery and upcycling of co-products and waste (e.g. skin, head, entrails) from the fish supply chain. (2) Which reach 60-70% of the raw materials and are largely destined for waste, with a residual portion for secondary production (e.g. feed for aquaculture, petfood).

Fishmeal for food use, in addition to the numerous bioactive substances (e.g. oils, peptides, proteins, enzymes, minerals) that can be extracted with innovative technologies, it is the first treasure with unexpressed potential. A recent Brazilian study (Rodrigues de Souza et al., 2022) evaluates some production processes and the usefulness of use to enrich basic foods. (3)

5) Fishmeal as a functional ingredient

Customers showed a greater interest in fish meat, mainly due to its high level of nutrients, high protein content and fatty acid profiles (Tiwari et al., 2021). (4) The Marine Omega-3s, EPA and DHA, perform crucial functions in the human body including reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (Fujii et al., 2021). (5) And it is for this reason that we are already working on their extraction through upcycling of fish waste, also in the EcoeFISHent research project. (6)

Consumption of fish however, it is still low – in comparison with those of poultry, pigs and cattle – despite the fact that global aquaculture production has doubled in the last 20 years (FAO, 2020), as seen. Its inclusion in a variety of foods ready-to-eat and easy to prepare, all the better if not subject to the cold chain, can be an interesting alternative to encourage consumption and promote greater use.

6) Manufacturing processes, consumer acceptability, circular economy

I ricercators of the State University of Maringá in Brazil (Rodrigues de Souza et al., 2022) experimented with four different processing processes of eviscerated carcasses of tilapia, tuna, sardines and salmon and their use, in different concentrations, in tapioca biscuits (a gluten-free starchy product derived from the cassava plant).

snack of tapioca enriched with cooked tilapia carcass flour (9%) showed a high protein content and concentrations of linoleic, arachidonic and eicosapentaenoic fatty acids, as well as a good sensory acceptance. Those prepared with fishmeal from several other fish species also received the highest purchase intent scores. (3)

7) EU rules

The test of the applicability of the reg. EU 2015/2283 on the subject of novel food must always precede the placing of innovative foods and their ingredients on the EU market. Fishmeal in itself is a traditional food, as confirmed to us on 7.12.22 by the European Commission, Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE).

'The fact that fishmeal is not mentioned in Regulation 853/2004 does not mean that its use for human consumption is prohibited.

The rules applicable to the production of fish oil for human consumption established in Annex III, Section VIII, Chapter IV.B of Reg. EU 853/04 must be applied, mutatis mutandis, to the production of fishmeal for human consumption.

In particular, the raw material must be fit for human consumption and the fishmeal for human consumption must be produced in an establishment approved in accordance with article 4.2 of the aforementioned regulation'.

8) Provisional conclusions

Previous studies have tested the effectiveness of adding fishmeal to a variety of staple foods characteristic of local traditions. Soups and broths, bread and pizzas, pasta and lasagne, sago noodles (7,8). In both respects the improvement of their nutritional profiles – with enrichment in proteins, Omega 3 and micronutrients, as well as the reduction of the glycemic index in baked goods – and consumer acceptance.

The inclusion of fishmeal it can allow you to make healthy and nutritious food at affordable costs, with pleasant sensory properties. And at the same time add value to fishing waste, with a significant increase in the efficiency of resource use. Research should now be directed towards the development of economic and ecological solutions that can also be applied to small plants, in the form of open innovation.

#sdg1, End poverty. # SDG2, zero hunger. # SDG3, Good health and well-being. # SDG10, Reduced inequalities. # SDG12, Sustainable production and consumption. # SDG13, Climate change. # SDG14, Life below water.

Dario Dongo

Footnotes to the story

(1) FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO (2022). The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022. Repurposing food and agricultural policies to make healthy diets more affordable. Rome, FAOhttps://doi.org/10.4060/cc0639en

(2) Dario Dongo, Andrea Adelmo Della Penna. EcoeFISHent, upcycling and blue economy in the fish supply chain. The EU research project. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 18.10.21

(3) Maria Luiza Rodrigues de Souza, Eliane Gasparino, Elenice Souza dos Reis Goes, Melina Franco Coradini, Vivian Izabel Vieira, Gislaine Gonçalves Oliveira, Marcos Antônio Matiucci, Ana Carolina Valente Junqueira de Castro, Simone Siemer, Vitória Regina Takeuchi Fernandes, Andresa Carla Feihrmann. (2022). Fish carcass flours from different species and their incorporation in tapioca cookies. Future Foods, Volume 5, 2022, 100132.

(4) M. Tiwari, MS Barooah, P. Sharma, PL Bordoloi, IA Hussain, AM Ahmed (2021). Physico-chemical characteristics of fish flour prepared from locally available small indigenous fish species of Assam. J. Food Process. Preserv. In press. https://doi.org/10.1111/jfpp.15704

(5) R. Fujii, H. Yamada, E. Munetsuna, M. Yamazaki, G. Mizuno, Y. Ando, ​​K. Suzuki (2021). Dietary fish and ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are associated with leukocyte ABCA1 DNA methylation levels. Nutrition, Volume 81, 2021, 110951. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2020.110951

(6) Dario Dongo, Andrea Adelmo Della Penna. Upcycling. Omega-3 from waste from the fish industry. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 29.10.21

(7) See bibliography cited in Rodrigues de Souza et al., 2022 (note 3)

(8) Suparmi S, Sumarto S, Afriana U, Hidayat T. (2022). Utilization of Biang Fish Flour (Ilisha elongata) as an Enrichment Material for Sago Noodles Nutrient Value. Int J Biomater. doi:10.1155/2022/8746296

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.

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