Essential oil to improve storage of fish


Thursday, 11 March, 2021


Essential oil to improve storage of fish

A study has found an essential oil may hold the key to preventing fish from going off as quickly in the fridge.

The research article, published by Functional Foods in Health and Disease, found the naturally occurring Eryngium caeruleum essential oil (EEO) had an antioxidant effect on rainbow trout meat.

The results of the study indicate that the use of EEO in the meat industry could enable the development of novel healthy fish products and improve the meat’s chemical stability.

Lipid oxidisation

Fish is often considered a healthy energy source. It contains considerable amounts of vitamins, proteins, major nutrients and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that can diminish the risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, it is these PUFAs that are particularly vulnerable to oxidisation.

The chemical deterioration of oily fish species, such as the popular rainbow trout, is principally caused by lipid oxidation. 

A different study published in 2016 found that the lipid oxidation of PUFA contained in fish is linked to the formation of off-flavour components, loss of nutritional value and even the formation of anti-nutritional molecules.

Antioxidants are compounds that stop the initial onset of the oxidation process. Some food processors incorporate these compounds into foods to stop the food from spoiling as quickly. However, synthetic antioxidants are strictly regulated so researchers are looking for natural alternatives.

Essential oils

The species E. caeruleum is a flowering and herbaceous plant that grows in the northern regions of Iran. The essential oil (EEO) of the plant’s leaves contains compounds responsible for its antimicrobial and flavouring properties.

After evaluating the chemical compounds of EEO by chromatography-mass spectrometry and reagent testing, the researchers deemed the oil to have an antioxidant effect.

The study concluded that when applied to the meat, the oil prevented chemical deterioration and subsequently improved its chemical quality.

The essential oil at a concentration of 0.4% showed the best effect in inhibiting lipid oxidation of minced fish.

Therefore, the authors suggest considering E. caeruleum essential oil as a natural antioxidant additive in fish meat due to its antioxidant properties.

However, further work is needed to assess the impact of this essential oil on other types of meat products using different packaging techniques for long-term storage.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Vladimir

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