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Can sell the skin

by the Fish Site Editor
08 January 2007, at 12:00am

BERGEN - Salmon and cod can give us more than tasty dinners. The skin from these fish can become gelatine with special properties, which is well-suited in foods and health food products.

Scientist Asbjørn Gildberg with gelatine from cod skin.

Fiskeriforskning has previously shown that the cod's skin can be used for the production of gelatine with special properties.

New tests have shown that the gelatine from salmon has the same properties. This is good news.

"It was surprising that gelatine from cod and salmon were so alike because these are species that are genetically very different", says Senior Scientist Asbjørn Gildberg.

More raw materials
Because both cod and salmon can be used for the same gelatine product, there are larger amounts of raw materials available than previously imagined.

"One of the objections against using fish skin for gelatine production has been that there is not enough access to raw materials. That we can use both cod and salmon changes this picture."

"With a growing aquaculture industry for both these species, and increased processing, this means that we are getting increasingly larger amounts of skin available as residual raw materials", Gildberg points out.

Special properties
Gelatine from fish is not like ordinary gelatine. It has a viscous consistency at lower temperatures than animal gelatine. Therefore, fish gelatine will for example be better suited in refrigerated products when one wants to maintain a thick and rich texture without the product stiffening.

Fish gelatine can also be an alternative in health food products, such as capsules with fish oil. Instead of using animal gelatine for encapsulating, fish gelatine can be used, resulting in a product that exclusively consists of marine ingredients.

If the fish gelatine is treated with enzymes, natural antioxidants and substances can be produced that can reduce high blood pressure.

Can become a profitable industry
Today, fish gelatine accounts for only 1-2 % of the world's total production of 300,000 tonnes. Mammals, such as pigs and cattle, are the most important source of raw materials.

"Gelatine from coldwater fish is so different from mammal gelatine that it is not very well-suited as an alternative for such gelatine. But if the special properties of the fish gelatine are used for the right products, it can become a profitable industry", says Gildberg.

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