Research group at Oregon State exploring seafood byproduct utilization for human consumption

A pile of fish byproducts.

Oregon State University Seafood Research and Education Center and the Linus Pauling Science Center is undertaking a research project to study seafood byproduct utilization for human consumption.

The team is one year in to the eight-year project, which is exploring various aspects of byproduct utilization. The leader on the project, OSU Professor Jung Kwon, told SeafoodSource the mission, and said she is optimistic her group's work will have a positive impact on the seafood industry due to the potential in the utilization of the high-protein byproduct in combating malnutrition.

“We see that there’s a big opportunity addressing this issue because this is really linked to providing additional sources of nutrition for increasing human population. And also, there is a huge conversation an interest towards sustainable production of food product,” Kwon said.

The goal is to turn fish byproducts into edible protein for humans. The team, comprised of professors and graduate students, is working with high-volume species such as Alaskan pollock and pacific whiting. The group is developing a method to extract protein using byproduct materials, including the backbone and fish tissue.

Kwon said her teams is currently working on finding the best strategy to optimize, purify, and isolate the protein. Once established, additional testing will proceed.

“This will be a really big topic in the future of food … I think as a seafood sector it will be important to put effort on these aspects to be able to address the future needs of the food sector," Kwon said. 

The project came together with combined support of both industry and federal funding. Kwon said.

“I believe the seafood industry sees the need for this innovative research done on this area," she said.

Traditionally, fish byproducts are typically discarded or used in lower-value applications such as fishmeal or fertilizers. However, Kwon said she feels very optimistic going forward for the future of optimal utilization of resources. 

“For the consumers as well, on the flipside, consumers may have viewed the seafood processing byproduct as potentially not very intriguing. But I think utilizing the resources is better for the future and is really important for the whole global community. I think this will be something that’s benefiting the whole community and whole population. Being exploratory and open-minded in product choice and dietary choice. I think it will be really useful in the future going froward,” Kwon said.

Photo courtesy of NitNami/Shutterstock


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