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FISH WASTE AND FUNCTIONAL FOODS
Norwegian College of Fishery Science, Department of Marine BiotechnologyUniversity of Tromsø9037 TromsøNorwayAuthor for Correspondance: E.O. ElvevollEmail: [email protected]
Scientific research constantly provides new insights in the interaction between genetic
predisposition, specific health risks and nutritional needs, and the functioning of
separate nutrients. The role of food as an agent for improving health has been proposed
Every year 30 million tons of such waste is dumped around the world, and Norway
alone has been "wasting" 150,000 tons a year. Fish waste may be sources for of
proteins of high biological value, unsaturated essential fatty acids, vitamins and
antioxidants, minerals or trace metals and physiological beneficial amino acids and
Scientific data shows that the consumption of fish or fish oil containing omega-3
polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) reduces the risk of coronary heart disease,
decreases mild hypertension, prevents certain cardiac arrhythmia, and sudden death,
lowers the incidence of diabetes, and appears to alleviate symptoms of rheumatoid
arthritis. It appears that omega-3 PUFAs play a vital role in the development and
function of the nervous system (brain), photoreception (vision), and the reproductive
Additional components in seafood may be of importance for development of life style
diseases. Potent peptides with high anti hypertensive activities and petides, which may
modulate neuropeptide levels, have been isolated from fish waste. Protease inhibitors
of the serpin family, or serine protease inhibitors, are a family of glycoproteins that
include members involved in the control of blood coagulation, fibrinolysis, complement
activation and inflammation processes, are also found. Calcium and vitamin D are other
candidates. Antioxidants (tocopherols, ubiquinone, selenium, taurine, fish protein) have
attracted special attention due to their possible prevention of low-density lipoprotein
Scientific and technological developments in the field of food have marked a shift in the
way people deal with food and health. Scientific research constantly provides new
insights in the interaction between genetic predisposition, specific health risks and
nutritional needs, and the functioning of separate nutrients. There is a growing
awareness that the dietary source and form of food may affect the overall health of the
consumer. With the help of these insights and the advancing (bio) technological
possibilities in this field, it is possible to develop new biological active enriched foods.
The role of food as an agent for improving health has initiated the development of new
classes of food- functional foods. The term indicates a food that contains some health
promoting components. Various so-called functional foods have appeared on the
market. General nutritional advice such as ‘eat a varied diet and not too much’ or the
‘five food groups’, in the past is nowadays increasingly defined in terms of required
intake of nutrients, whether or not geared to different target groups.
VOLUMES AND VALUE OF FISH WASTES
Fish wastes have a huge unexploited potential for value adding. Every year 18 – 30
million tons of waste is dumped around the world. The goal is to increase the use in
foods, functional foods and biochemical products for human consumption. By-products
from Norwegian fisheries, included fish farming, consist of viscera (liver, roe, stomachs,
etc.), heads, backbones, cuts and rejected fish from processing
(http://www.rubin.no/eng/). The by-products are generated when the fish is gutted,
headed and further processed - either on-board in fishing vessels or in processing
plants on shore. The Norwegian fisheries produce more than 550,000 tons of by-
products annually, which is more than 20 % of all the fish caught and farmed in Norway.
Today most of the by-products are used as raw materials for feed production; such as
fishmeal, silage and feed for fur animals. About 150.000 tons are still dumped into the
sea (Figure 2). The total value adding represents 1,25 billion NOK (2001). If we succeed
to utilise more of the by-products as food for humans and as ingredients in foodstuff,
health foods, pharmacy, cosmetics etc., the value adding may increase by 4-5 fold.
Less than 10% of volume represents 50% of the added value (Figure1).
The current annual world production of aquaculture products is approximately 34 MMT
(FAO, 1998). Total annual worldwide aquaculture landings are increasing rapidly from a
total annual catch of 13.4 MMT in 1987 to 34.1 MMT in 1996 (FAO). However, as the
aquaculture industry continues to grow, so do the problems associated with aquaculture
of marine by-products (mill. NOK/year).
FUNCTIONAL INGREDIENTS FROM FISH WASTE
A relationship between fish consumption and reduced mortality due to cardiovascular
diseases was shown from the early 80’s (Kromhaut et al
., 1985, Marckmann and
Gronbaek, 1999; Menotti et al.,
1999; Mori et al
., 1999). Curiously, in most of the
references the positive effect has been attributed to the intake of marine fatty acids
alone, although lean and fatty fish, in most studies, gave the same protective effects.
Since late 70’s it has been established that Greenland Eskimos living on their traditional
marine diet, had a lower incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD) than when living in
Denmark on a western diet (Dyerberg et al.,
1978). All aspects of the Eskimo diet and
their possible assosiation to development of CHD are still not fully explored. The
Eskimos consume the bulk of their food raw or dried, seldom boiled or exposed to
excessive heat (Berezovikova et al.,
2001). Their traditional food habits includes
extensive consumption of visceral organs, in this context regarded as waste (Elvevoll,
1988). The main task of modern processes is to make edible and stable products.
Refining procedures for the removal of molecules that causes off- flavours or -taste to
improve sensory attributes or safety of marine oils may destroy potent antioxidants or
remove other components with potential beneficial effects. Modern meal preparing
techniques may also lower the content of biologically active components. Losses of of
low molecular weight compounds like taurine due to preparing techniques are well
known. Preliminary results from our lab indicates up to 50% leakage when preparing
traditional (Norwegian) fish products (Dragnes and Elvevoll, 2003). Results from
(Østerud et al.,
1995, Brox et al., 2001,
Ramirez-Tortosa et al
., 1999) indicates that
there are protective substances whose effect disappears when the products is
subjected to rough processing conditions such as cooking or refining.
Of special interest when focusing on by- products; Eating practices that manages to
maintain traditional food habits with extensive consumption of visceral organs may be
beneficial for preventing atherosclerosis and hypertension (Nobmann et al.,
Visceral organs (liver, heart, kidney, gonads) are known as rich sources biological
active molecules (Pedersen et al.,
Seafood and fish waste may be sources for of proteins of high biological value,
unsaturated essential fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants, minerals or trace metals
and physiological beneficial amino acids and peptides.
Scientific data shows that the consumption of fish or fish oil containing omega-3 PUFAs
reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, decreases mild hypertension, prevents
certain cardiac arrhythmia, and sudden death, lowers the incidence of diabetes, and
appears to alleviate symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. It appears that omega-3 PUFAs
play a vital role in the development and function of the nervous system (brain),
photoreception (vision), and the reproductive system (Simopoulos, 1999, Kirpal 2003).
Additional components in seafood may be of importance for development of life style
diseases like coronary heart diseases (CHD). Potent peptides with high anti
hypertensive activities (ACE inhibitors) and petides which may modulate central
neuropeptide levels have been isolated from hydrolysates from fish meat (Yoshikawa et
2000, Sorensen et al.,
2004). Protease inhibitors of the serpin family, or serine
protease inhibitors, are a family of glycoproteins that include members involved in the
control of blood coagulation, fibrinolysis, complement activation and inflammation
processes, are also found in seafood (Huang et al.,
1995, Cao et al.,
selenium, vitamin D, taurine and ubiquinone are other candidates from seafood for
protection against CHD (Savige, 2001). Marine low molecular weight components
antioxidants (tocopherols, CoQ10, selenium, taurine) have attracted special attention
due to their possible prevention of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation (Kondo et al.,
2000). Many proteins also exhibit antioxidative activity, fish proteins have also been
shown to inhibit LDL oxidation in rat models.
BENEFICIAL COMPONENTS IN MARINE OILS LOST DUE TO PROCESSING?
Fish oils are extracted from whole fish, fish liver (mainly cod liver) or by-products from
the fisheries industry (mainly salmon). The traditional extraction technique involves
heating or steam stripping of the raw material in order to release the lipids. Marine oils
are highly unsaturated and the application of high temperatures during extraction may
cause undesired effects like; initiation of oxidation reactions, destruction of antioxidants
and extraction of molecules that causes taste and smell in the oil fraction. It is inevitable
that during heat extraction of the oil detectable changes occur in the different lipid
component, as compared with their “virgin” state in the cells. A mechanical procedure
applicable at lower temperatures, to avoid some of these undesired effects of
temperature, has been developed (NIFA,1999).
Marine oils for human consumption are normally subject to an additional traditional oil
refining process. The main objectives of this process are to remove pesticides and to
make an edible and stable product. To achieve a stable, sensory acceptable and safe
product the removal of a number of components (e.g. free fatty acids, phospholipids,
pigments, sterols, transformation products, metals and possible toxic agents) are
normally necessary. The conventional classical (caustic) refining operation consists of
four main steps; degumming, deacidification (caustic neutralisation), bleaching or
decolourization and deodorization. In addition optional steps like pre- cleaning (filter,
sedimentation) or mixing of different batches, vinterization (dewaxing) and post –
cleaning or polishing filtration may be applied. During some of the refining steps a
number of chemical reactions (hydrolysis, autoxidation, isomerization, conjugation,
polymerization, pyrolysis, dehydration) is likely to take place depending on the
processing conditions. The process is designed to remove such products as well.
Application and number of steps are also influenced by qualities of the oil e.g.
unsaturation, accompanying substances, amount and nature of impurities, the past
history – oxidative and hydrolytic damage suffered previously. Preferences are mainly
based on quality criteria applied to oils, economic and environmental benefits in order to
achieve a shortcut in the process sequence and less material loss.
In conclusion, removal of molecules to improve sensory attributes or safety of the
marine oil may destroy potent antioxidants and may as well remove components with
potential beneficial effects. There is an urgent need for development of new refining
TAURINE AND ACE-INHIBITORS - REDUSED CARDIOVASCULAR RISK?
In this section, amino acids (taurine) and petides (ACE -inhibitors) are used as
examples of possible additionally beneficial components from seafood and hence
components in possible ingredients in functional foods. The components serve as
examples when reviewing the literature. The products (functional ingredients, dietary
supplements), due to refining costs, most probably, need to be relatively crude
preparations (hydrolysates or free amino acids).
Differences in muscle osmolality, e.g. between marine and non-marine animals, are
mainly due to nitrogenous solutes such as certain amino acids, among these, taurine
(Abe, 2000). Seafood contains high levels of taurine (Laidlaw et al.,
consumption of seafood is shown to give a rise in concentration serum taurine (Uhe et
1992, Stegink et al.,
1970, Kim et al.,
2003) and urinary excretion of taurine is
known as a marker for seafood consumption (Biosca et al.,
The suggestion of a possible association between fish intake and reduced
cardiovascular risk, through the beneficial effects of taurine in addition to and n-3 fatty
acids has been put forward in (Mizushima et al.,
1997, Yamori et al.,
1994). In humans,
taurine is regarded to be a conditionally essential amino acid as its physiological
concentration can be partly regulated endogenously. The amino acid, taurine is known
to have several positive effects on the cardiovascular system and a broad review is
presented by Niittynen et al.
(1999) Firstly, taurine has an antioxidant activity. This may
reduce the production of proinflammatory products. Secondly, taurine has been shown
to lower blood pressure in borderline hypertensive patients. It has also been reported
that taurine can improve cardiac performance, reduce blood cholesterol values and
The ability to form taurine is species dependent, and cats are unable to synthesise
taurine. For this reason, cats have been used in animal studies to study availability of
taurine due to processing. Frozen-preserved commercial diets have been shown to
maintain plasma taurine concentration, whereas the heat-processed diet did not (Kim et
1996). It is reported that Cod protein subjected to technological processing showed
lower digestibility, assimilate-ability and growth yield as compared with raw protein. A
significant correlation was found between the results of the biological assessment of the
nutritional value of processed protein and content of taurine in the liver and urine of rats,
on the other hand (Lipka et al.,
Although commonly used as a dietary supplement in the Far East, the potential
advantages of dietary taurine consumption/supplementation have not been recognised
in the Western World (Stapleton et al.,
It has been documented that peptides from the digests of fish muscle possesses potent
inhibitory activity against angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE) ( Galardy et al.,
Kohama et al.,
1996, Matsufuji et al.,
1994, Yohshikawa et al.,
2000, Sorensen et al.,
2004). They possesses potent antihypertensive activities. For assessment of relative
antihypertensive activities two peptides form fish to that of captopril (a common drug),
they were orally administered to rats. When compared on molar basis accounted for
66% and 91% relative to that of captopril. It is of interest to note that of these peptides
exert remarkably higher antihypertensive activities in vivo despite weaker in vitro ACE-
inhibitory effects, which was ascertained by using captopril as the reference drug. Such
peptides may be regarded as healthy components (through endogenous metabolism) of
fish muscles and may be produced as ingredients or diet supplements.
1. Fish wastes - a huge unexploited potential (volume) for value adding.
2. Fish wastes - extended use as food, ingredients in functional food, in diet
3. Fish wastes - The products, due to refining costs, need to be relatively crude
4. Fish wastes - A wide range of components in addition to unsaturated fatty acids
should be studied and developed as products.
5. Fish wastes - There is a need for development of new refining techniques due to
losses of availability trough traditional preparing and processing.
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