Why the traditional Czech Christmas dinner fish may be good for wrinkles
Carp has been the traditional Christmas dish for centuries. But it is only now that scientists have discovered its other possible uses – in smoothing out wrinkles and making jelly bears.
Carp is the most common fish breed in Czechia and over 20,000 tons of carp are netted annually, for consumption at home and abroad. Fried carp appears on almost every Czech table at Christmas but scientists from Tomáš Bat'a University in Zlín have now alerted Czechs to the fact that it could help make their lives better all-year-round. They have developed a method that uses residues from the processing of freshwater fish, especially carp, to produce collagen that has many uses in the food and cosmetics industries.
The heads, scales, bones and skin of carp account for up to half of the waste in processing and represent a large amount of unused raw materials, particularly rich in proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins. Pavel Mokrejš, head of the project says all this currently goes to waste.
“Fish by-products are currently not used. So we have been looking for ways to process them using environmentally friendly methods. Normally, collagen is produced from beef and pork residues using acids, which has a negative impact on the environment. By using proteolytic enzymes, we can work at relatively low temperatures, use low enzyme concentrations and a pH that is close to neutral. Our technology is not only environmentally friendly but economical and the fish collagen derived can be used to expand the existing range of products in the cosmetics and food industries around the world.”
One obvious use is in anti-wrinkle creams. Aneta Prokopová who is on the university’s research team, explains why fish collagen is particularly suitable for this purpose.
"Fish collagen molecules are smaller than from beef or pork, so they penetrate the skin better. The result is a reduction in wrinkles, and tests have shown that up to 70 percent of wrinkles are smoothed out. Wrinkles do not disappear, but they are significantly reduced. Collagen absorbs water from the skin and the effect is that wrinkles are filled in and appear less visible".
Another residue from fish processing is a substance called gelatine –a food ingredient derived from collagen - that has many applications in the food industry.
Robert Gál is director of the Institute of Food Technology in Zlín:
"Gelatine is used for instance in the production of jelly bears, but you will also find it in meat products and elsewhere. Gelatine from fish is already available, but for some reason it is not as widely used as that from pork or beef so there is a lot of potential."
According to statistics, the global consumption of gelatine is about 600,000 tonnes per year and is still growing. Researchers at the Tomas Bata University in Zlín have registered the new technology for processing collagen from fish residue in Czechia and are now seeking a world patent.