Salmon becomes what it eats

August 20, 2012 - 07:01

The diet of farmed salmon is no small-fry issue. The quality of the fats and proteins in feeds has quite an impact on the taste of the fish.

Passing the amino acid test? (Photo: Colourbox)

The results from several tests point in the same direction:

“The feed given to salmon has an enormous effect on the taste of the fish,” says researcher Turid Mørkøre, who works at the food research institute Nofima.

Earlier tests have shown that feed granules or pellets containing rancid fats will taint the fish with a bad taste. Analyses also indicated that just a little rancid feed will spoil the quality of lots of salmon.

Now a new study reveals that the proteins in the feed are also significant.

Tasting panel

“The proteins consist of amino acids and some of them seem to enhance the taste of salmon significantly,” says Mørkøre.

A professional tasting panel consisting of 12 judges evaluated the salmon raised on different feeds. These are people endowed with exceptionally sensitive taste buds and noses, who can differentiate between minute changes in tastes and smell.

“But we have every reason to believe that salmon given the right feeds will likewise be found delicious by your discerning average consumer,” she says.

“Previous conclusions about fatty acids have already been confirmed by professional fish tasters as well as ordinary consumers.”

Sushi
Turid Mørkøre of Nofima. (Photo: Nofima)

The Nofima researcher expects the aquaculture industry to act on the findings.

“The results show it’s possible to use the feed to tailor-make salmon tastes to meet consumers’ different uses and wishes. It will be deemed important to give the right feed to fish for sushi or fish that will be used in smoked salmon or lox. The taste in these is more evident than, for instance, in poached fish.”

Now the challenge is to select the raw materials for feeds that provide the ideal combinations of amino acids.

The researchers still lack knowledge about the exact contents of the necessary ingredients in feeds. And even though they are aware of some raw materials with high concentrations of beneficial amino acids there are still some unknown factors to be studied before feeds can be improved.

“It has to be a feed that the fish like and which gives sufficient health and growth. It also needs to be something that pellets can be made of at an acceptable price,” says the researcher.

The results were revealed in a larger study financed by the Norwegian Seafood Research Fund (FHF).

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Read the Norwegian version of this article at forskning.no

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Translated by
Glenn Ostling

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