Fried foods to become healthier: Proteins extracted from discarded fish muscle can create a protective barrier between food and oil. The food retains moisture, but doesn’t absorb the fat. From SD, Food Chemist Develops Protein-based Batter for Healthier Frying (click the link to see a video about the story). Going to the Proteus Institute website, I learn that the product will be used for chicken and fish. It can: “Reduce fat absorption, Improve moisture retention, Extend shelf life, Control pathogens, Increase protein content.”Finding any more information on American sites is impossible. The Brits, of course, don’t sugar-coat the fish coating. The IHT presents the following in And a dash of fish tissue:
Low-fat fried chicken may seem like a contradiction in terms, but not to Stephen Kelleher.
On a recent morning, he hovered over a whirling assembly line as a waterfall of gray liquid cascaded over slabs of breaded chicken. Then the magic began.
During the bath in the liquid solution, which consists of water and protein molecules extracted from a slurry of chicken or fish tissue, a thin, imperceptible shield formed around the meat.
When the chicken is submerged in oil, the coating blocks fat from being absorbed from the fryer.
Voila! The chicken contains 50 percent less fat than a typical piece of fried chicken.
Food technology is great, especially when it improves foods that we love to eat. However, I can’t help but be frustrated with the public view of things. Surely, this “fish muscle protein” will be happily embraced because people want to believe that fried foods are acceptable – even though they have zero understanding of the chemistry involved.
Last year, a protein from fish was found to produce a creamy but low-fat ice cream. There was a public uproar (at least in the popular media and on various blogs) because the protein was to be produced in yeast, as extracting it from fish wasn’t possible in the volumes needed. How, exactly, are these two proteins different? Once a protein has been extracted and purified, one source is indistinguishable from another. Ice cream is not an expected place to find a fish protein, but the use is not fundamentally different from the new coating on fried foods. I don’t understand why some biotechnology is acceptable while some is not.
Extracting protein from discarded fish parts doesn’t seem very efficient to me (use them for biofuels or fertilizer instead). I propose to isolate the gene for the protein of interest, and simply produce the protein in E. coli or yeast. Alternatively, it could be grown in any number of crop plants. It surely would be cheaper to extract it from culture or seeds than from discarded fish parts. And, it might just be an acceptable form of genetic engineering.