Polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, so-called Omega-3 fish oils have a well-documented positive effect on human health. Still, a significant fraction of the population does not consume the 2-3 fish meals per week required to reap these health benefits. This might, in many cases, be caused by a dislike of fish flavours, or unwanted smell and taste of fish and fish products. By encapsulating omega-3 oils in microcapsules they can be protected against oxidation, and the microcapsules can be added directly to food products to ensure a regular intake without having to take omega-3 supplements.
At the same time, we need to utilize rest raw materials including skin and backbones from domestic fish production in a more optimal way. A challenge is to obtain good quality omega-3-oils and fish proteins like gelatin from rest raw materials. Another problem is that some consumers may have concerns about eating food derived from such materials.
In the OMEGA project, we will improve the extraction of omega-3 oils and fish gelatin from salmon rest raw materials. The pure omega-3 oils will be microencapsulated, possibly using the fish gelatin in the capsule walls, to prevent degradation and mask off-flavours. The microcapsules will then be incorporated into selected food products to increase the nutritional value, and finally the smell and taste of these food products will be evaluated together with an investigation to identify consumer concerns and perceptions towards food based on rest raw materials.
Omega is a four-year research project financed by the Norwegian Research Council. The project is led by SINTEF Industry, and SINTEF Ocean, NTNU and the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences are national partners. In addition, DTU in Denmark and Amity University in India are participating in the project.