Surimi – a Japanese word literally meaning "ground meat" – is a fish-based food that mimics the texture and colour of crab and lobster meat. Typically taking the form of crabsticks, it is made from fish protein that is mixed with ingredients, including starches, egg white and flavourings.
According to the company, its natural colours derived from lycopene and betacarotene provide manufacturers with a palette of red, pink and orange hues that resist colour migration for longer and, therefore, extend its shelf-life.
"The stability of the colours is extended by up to three months. This is one of the main challenges for surimi manufacturers, although there are many other factors that determine shelf life," a spokesperson for the company said.
Carmine is commonly used in surimi but it migrates visibly and is not considered to be ‘label-friendly’ as it is derived from insects. Paprika, meanwhile, is natural but can deliver an off-taste that manufacturers must then mask with additional flavours.
The colour-fast nature of Lycored’s colours means manufacturers do not have to use extra chemicals to prevent the red or orange colour from bleeding into the white surimi mass, the company said.
Lycored’s R&D scientists blended colours from its Tomat-O-Red and Lyc-O-Beta range to the outer layer of surimi seafood sticks. These were then stored in chilled conditions and exposed to light levels of 8330 Lux – “significantly higher than typical grocery store conditions” it said.
The scientists then measured colour stability using the Delta E system which registers shifts visible to the naked eye. Colour migration was measured using digi-eye photography.
The carmine and paprika samples all registered a colour shift visible to the naked eye within 31 days whereas the Lyc-O-Beta and Tomat-O-Red maintained colour stability for at least 66 days, with three of them lasting the full 90 days of the trial without any visible colour migration, the firm said.
"Manufacturers who use our naturally sourced colours gain a significant advantage in terms of shelf life, as well as avoiding the use of chemicals," said Christiane Lippert, head of marketing at Lycored. "We can also help them extend their ranges by offering colour match solutions for new shellfish variants.”
Surimi’s image problem
Surimi has traditionally suffered from somewhat of a reputation problem, often considered to be made from processed and reconstituted fish waste.
Some manufacturers have been working hard to change this image, however. French manufacturer Fleury Michon, for example, reforumulated its surimi to only include natural ingredients and switched to sourcing fish certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). It then embarked on a high profile online, print and television advertising campaign on television to inform consumers about its efforts.
Lycored will be presenting its research at the 10th Surimi School Europe, a conference that brings together surimi processers and suppliers, held in Madrid from 20-22 September 2017.
The event will cover ingredient innovations (specifically on colours, texturisers, flavours and sodium-reduction taste enhancers) as well as processing developments, global product launches and sustainability initiatives.