Scientists at the US government’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have developed new invisible edible coatings made from fish gelatin that could be used to prevent moisture damage in frozen foods.
Unlike cow and pig gelatine, fish gelatin coatings are suitable for kosher and Halal products, said ARS scientists in Alaska and California. In tests the alternative coatings, which do not smell or taste of seafood, protected against unwanted moisture and oxygen to a greater extent than films made from materials such as cow and pig hides.
Skins left over after fish such as Alaskan Pollock are processed are usually ground up and thrown into the sea or processed into low-margin fishmeal, said ARS food technologist Tara McHugh. Turning them into thin, pliable films for coatings could be more profitable, she said.
Agricultural engineer Roberto de Jesus Avena-Bustillos, at the University of California, Davis, said the fish gelatins offered better protection against oxidation than mammalian gelatins. “Fish gelatins could be used to reduce water loss in refrigerated and frozen foods. Covering a gel-capsule-type medication with a thin coating of fish gelatin would also slow down natural oxidation,” he added.