Only 60 per cent of the herring caught in Norway ends up being consumed. (Photo: Frank Gregersen, Nofima)
Scientists get creative with enzymes from herring processing
Wednesday, September 05, 2012, 01:10 (GMT + 9)
Enzymes from herring parts could soon wind up in detergents or even in juice, according to Nofima Mat, the Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research.
Already, only 60 per cent of the herring caught in Norway ends up being consumed; from a total of 900 tonnes of herring, about 360 tonnes of waste – mostly skin, bones and guts -- is left over once the fish have been filleted.
The leftovers are now turned into feed for farmed fish and other animals and sold for around EUR 0.36 per kilo instead of the EUR 2 charged for the fillets.
“We’re looking for enzymes in the herring residue and have already found 25 of them that look promising,” explains Diana Lindberg, who works with herring in a research group at the Marine Biotechnology department of Nofima.
Trout, salmon and cod also contain enzymes that make foods stay fresh longer, wash stains out of our clothes and improve our health.
“Herring is a major catch that hasn’t been researched sufficiently. I think maybe it’s just too ordinary,” the researcher said.
In herring, fats are the first thing to be removed in the stages leading up to useful enzymes.
Different cleansing methods yield different enzymes, and these can be an environmentally friendly alternative to chemicals in production of pharmaceutical products and biofuels.
“We’ve been fortunate in finding as many as 25 enzymes in our experiments,” said Lindberg. “We’re concentrating now on four of them which we selected for further experimentation.”
She now wants to find out the characteristics of these four herring enzymes and how they hold up against enzymes already available on the market.
“Herring swim in cold waters and we’ve already discovered that many of the selected enzymes work well in cold temperatures. This can make them useful in detergents,” she pointed out.
As clothes last longer when washed in colder water, a possible use for herring enzymes would be in laundry powders which work in cooler water.
A side project run by Lindberg’s team involves prospecting for enzyme inhibitors that can be used in medicines to slow down the development of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and hepatitis C.
Lindberg said a study performed in collaboration with Professor Helena Danielson’s group at the University of Uppsala, Sweden, found that inhibitors from herring can be as effective as others on the market.
Lindberg’s project group collaborates with the fisheries firm Nergård AS, which fillets and packages herring to add value to the waste by discovering new uses for it.
By Natalia Real