Indonesian BRIN is developing a solution to turn fish waste into raw material for the cultured meat sector

Cultured meat companies use microbial growth media to provide cells with nutrition, with peptone providing the nitrogen necessary for organisms to grow.

Currently, cultured meat companies use peptone derived from animal meat for its growth medium, but BRIN researchers believe that using fish waste may be a less expensive process, provide a better nutrient profile in higher protein and amino acid terms and create greater ingredient value.

Trash fish are bycatch by fishermen, usually in areas where there is shrimp trawling activity, where small fish are accidentally caught.

Wawan Kosasih, Project Team Leader at BRIN, said: “At the auction, many trash fish are not sold because they are not preferred for consumption, and they are usually sold at very low prices for animal feed or even discarded as garbage. We had an idea to increase the economic value of fish and as a solution to treat discarded fish waste​.”

For this project, the researchers used Boso fish, which is widely available on the north coast of the island of Java, one of the areas where shrimp trawling is widespread.

The process

The process begins with cleaning the fish, adding water and mixing into a slurry. This porridge is hydrolyzed with the enzyme papain, incubated for four to eight hours and filtered to obtain hydrolyzed protein. This protein is then spray dried into peptone powder.

Kosasih said all parts of fish containing protein can be used to make protein hydrolyzate.

In addition to using it as a growth medium ingredient, Kosasih said FoodNavigator-Asia​ that the protein hydrolyzate produced can also be used for seasoning or as food for toddlers or the elderly.

Compared to commercial peptone

The price of fish peptone is much cheaper than commercial meat-derived peptone, only because it used fish waste or fish waste, not fresh fish.

For comparison, raw materials for making peptone from 500g of fish protein hydrolyzate require IDR 39,000 (US$2.70) while commercial peptone requires IDR 400,000-800,000 (US$28-28). 56 USD) for the same amount.said Kosasih.

In addition to the cost savings of using unwanted fish, the use of fish-derived peptone has a high protein and α-amino content compared to meat peptone.

For example, fish peptone contains 442.25 mg/g protein, compared to 258.5 mg/g protein in commercial peptone.

The α-amino concentration of the fish peptone is 124 mM, more than the commercial peptone of 65 mM.

Currently, Indonesia imports most of its peptone needs, which is expensive, and if it can use its readily available raw material to make peptone, that can help ease the pressure.

Peptones are used in industries ranging from food, fermentation, pharmaceutical and medical.

No industry players in Indonesia have commercialized this technology yet, but Kosasih is optimistic,”I hope there will be investors soon who will produce peptone from fish protein hydrolyzate​.”

The team is currently working on automating the process using a 15L reactor.

BRIN was one of the exhibitors at TechInnovation 2021.

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