Welch: Turning pollock into pet treats

“Co-products” is the big new buzz word in the seafood industry as more companies move toward “head to tail” uses for fish.

“For instance, the oils we are producing now from pollock livers has become so valuable in capsules and other human nutraceutical products, it makes no sense to call the livers a ‘byproduct’ of the fillets or surimi. All of it is important in the puzzle of how to maximize the value of each fish caught,” said Alex Oliveira, a food specialist at the Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center, a satellite campus of the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.

Oliveira specializes in marine lipids — fats — and food flavor chemistry. The pollock oil supplements she helped develop in partnership with American Seafoods Company are marketed under the 54°N label. Her research also has spawned powdered products made from pollock milt and roe that are popular in Asian markets, and she helped launch the first freeze-dried Alaska sockeye salmon bites for NASA astronauts.

Now, armed with a grant from the Alaska pollock industry, Oliveira is rolling up her sleeves to turn pollock skins into pet treats.

“It will be a nutritious, low-fat treat from a marine source, instead of a land animal byproduct,” she said, adding that two products will be tested: slices and skin roll-ups.

It’s a lengthy process getting any new food item to market, for pets and people.

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