New fish sorting technology prevents food waste

(08-08-2022) A new fish sorting technology developed by EU-project WaSeabi will prevent food waste in the seafood industry. Ghent University is one of the partners involved.

When filleting pelagic fish, the common practice is to collect all off-cuts such as heads, tails and backbones in one bin. This immediately reduces the quality of the off-cuts as they become contaminated with e.g. blood, enzymes and residues from the intestines. Consequently, the use and value become limited, which is why the off-cuts typically are sold for feed production.

However, if handled correctly, there is great potential for using the off-cuts for more valuable purposes such as high-quality food ingredients for fish burgers as they are rich in proteins.

This requires a change in the existing logistics – a challenge which the partners in the EU-funded project WaSeaBi have taken up by developing a new sorting technology that makes it possible to separate herring into head, backbones, viscera + belly flap, tail in addition to the fillet.

From 1 to 5 different cuts of the fish

The sorting technology has successfully been implemented at the herring processing company Sweden Pelagic in close cooperation with the project partners.

A filleting line for pelagic fish was rebuilt and now fractionates and separates the fish into 5 different clean parts. This means that Sweden Pelagic now has 5 cuts instead of one, which they can sell for subsequent production of food raw materials and ingredients such as minces, protein isolates, hydrolysates and oils.

The sorting technology can also be applied to other fish species.

Sustainability study

Ghent University's faculty of Bioscience Engineering will assess the potential environmental and economic impacts, as well as the legislative aspects of the proposed value chains in the project.

About the project

WaSeaBi is a four-year project that aims to optimise the utilisation of seafood side-streams by developing new methods to produce nutritious and tasty ingredients. The project brings together an interdisciplinary team of 13 partners from five European nations which include Ghent University, Technical University of Denmark, Food & Bio Cluster Denmark, Chalmers University of Technology, AZTI, EIT Food, Sweden Pelagic, Royal Greenland, Alfa Laval, Pescados Marcelino, Jeka Fish, Barna and Nutrition Sciences.

The project receives funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking (JU) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837726. The JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the Bio Based Industries Consortium.

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