Salt-based fish preservative heralded as phosphate alternative

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

An ingredient billed as an alternative to synthetic phosphates for fish preservation targets anti-rancidity and promises yield increase along with antimicrobial stability in prepared fish and fish products.

The product from Slovenia-based Vitiva -VFish -is a combination of mineral-rich sea salt with proprietary plant extract formulations.

Ohad Cohen, CEO of the company, told FoodNavigator.com that VFish also enables easier deboning of fish for processors, as it ensures a firmer flesh structure due to its water-binding capacities.

“VFish binds water within the cells, as opposed to phosphates which do so between cells, thus allowing a rigid fish form that can facilitate further processing and reduce give-away.

Furthermore, leakage is reduced due to the fact the water is contained with the cells, which means processors do not have to use absorption pads in their packaging,”​ said Cohen, who added that the product is particularly suited to white fish and salmon, and does not impact colour.

Shelf-life parameters that can be achieved with VFish differ depending on application but Cohen stressed that it is a modular system that can be tailored to individual processor needs.

Fish yield and juiciness

Water-binding capacity is one of the key parameters in processed fish and has a significant impact on yield and juiciness of the final product.

Most of the physical properties, including colour, texture and firmness of the raw fish result from this binding effect. In addition, fish and fish products contain high amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and thus are prone to rapid oxidation and rancidity. Lipid oxidation, coupled with microbial proliferation, is a major cause of deterioration and spoilage for fish.

Salt reduction

While the product is salt based, explained the CEO, it still allows a reduction in sodium of 50% when compared to phosphate usage in fish preservation.

Cohen recommends that VFish is applied to fish as earlier as possible in the processing stage - on the boat preferably - as it is effective in reducing liquid protein loss so critical to the nutrient profile of fish products.

The CEO, who said that he has been consulting with some of the leading fish processors on the ingredient, said the line can be customized to different batch sizes, various technological needs and processing operations.

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