There is more to pollock than sandwiches and fish sticks. Pollock Surimi accounts for 25% of Alaska pollock products, but a large percentage of the surimi fish meat is being flushed out. Food scientists are turning the protein-packed wash water used in surimi production into more valuable products.
“We are trying to prevent it from becoming wastewater.”
Tyre Lanier is a Professor of Food Science at North Carolina State University.
“We want to capture the wash water protein while it is still part of the food processing.”
Lanier says that the leftover water used to wash the Pollock parts holds 40% of dissolved protein.”
“Surimi is a fractionation process; just like corn refining or soybean refining where they separate the different components and sell them as food ingredients.”
One example he uses is dairy whey; which is a 6.1 billion dollar industry today. Lanier says. The different grade of the surimi wash water protein determines what it is made into and where it goes.
“Today most processers try to capture every stream and find a use for it hopefully as food, and if not for food at least for pet food or feed and at the very last instance as fertilizer.”
Lanier says they are testing the technology on surimi first because it is the most protein being put down the drain, but the technique could be used in other meat production.
“I see no reason why we can’t use it in almost any muscle food processing plant whether it be beef, pork, chicken, or any type of seafood.”
Lanier has worked with processors for over 35 years starting with the first pollock surimi production in Kodiak in 1985. He and a team at Intercept Protein plan to expand beyond surimi.
“We are hoping to work with the surimi industry in Alaska to develop this process. And then from there, we hope to take it to other fish processors and other muscle food processors around the world.”