Fish bones’ second life

A new project is exploring means of turning fish waste into value-added products such as neutraceuticals while attempting to make fisheries a greener industry in developing countries.

Only about 50% of every fish sold as fillet is actually eaten.  Often, fish heads, viscera, skin and bones are discarded. In this context, the SECUREFISH project, funded by the EU, aims at reducing the post-harvest waste in the fisheries sector while improving the overall environmental friendliness of fish processing in developing countries. “We use the waste products that include fish skin and bones and process the proteins through hydrolysis into bioactive peptides,” explains project co-ordinator Nazlin Howell, Professor of Food Biochemistry, University of Surrey, Guilford, UK.

Scientists have discovered that some of the bioactive peptides isolated from fish waste exhibit an activity akin to that of a class of blood pressure lowering drugs called ACE inhibitors. Others also exhibit antioxidant properties and might reduce reactive oxygen species in cells. Such activity could have implications for cardiovascular disease and cancer prevention. Howell tells “[these] could be put into [food] products such as yoghurt and milk drinks” due to their potential health benefits.

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