From: Jerry K. Babbitt, Ph.D.
Washington State University, Department of Food Science
Retired Laboratory Director, Supervisory Research Chemist
National Marine Fisheries Service, Resource Enhancement & Utilization Technologies Laborartory, Kodiak, Alaska
To whom it may concern:
I have been asked what I think about the approach Asta, a food biotechnology company, is taking with their continuous enzymatic hydrolysis system with respect to aquaculture markets. Asta’s product is an advancement compared to anything else on the market today. It possesses unique bioavailability properties and has been demonstrated to have
a high degree of palatability. At a time when aquaculture products are needed more that ever to satisfy the growing demands for fish products, Asta’s product represents a major advance in feed for aquaculture. It is amazing such an advance in the production of a stable product that Asta has accomplished could be achieved in this day and age.
To a knowing person, the technology used by Asta is very basic but the application of this technology goes far beyond any process in use today. The result is a very unique product that Asta has termed pasteurized polypeptide powder (or “PPP”). Because polypeptides comprise proteins, PPP could eventually be used to replace protein in animal feeds and in supplements for humans.
Considering my research collaborations and extensive industry worldwide contacts, I have never seen any product like PPP before and, I doubt, if anyone has. This product
can be used to produce a much greater array of products than fish meal because of its unique qualities and characteristics. Studies have shown that the quality of PPP is superior to the best quality fish meal produced, yet because of its functional properties can be more easily converted to multiple applications to produce many analog products for fish and animal feeds, as well as a multitude of analog products for a variety of other applications. I am also encouraged to know that through Asta’s processing of marine species that oil rich in omega-3 fatty acids can be separated and/or incorporated with PPP. Omega-3 containing oils have been shown to improve cardiac function, help with arthritic pain, and improve mental acuity.
I learned of Asta’s product several years ago and I have been waiting during these years for this product to become commercially available. In many respects the results of this breakthrough in technology and the resulting product is similar to the development of
sunrmi. Surimi has been consumed for over 900 years yet industry technology to produce surimi was only recently developed in 1960. However, it has only been within the last 20 years that surimi has been responsible for the tremendous increase of seafood analog (crab, lobster, scallops, and shrimp) production in the U.S. The production of surimi is now a 1.5 million metric ton/year business.
Asta’s product, I believe, will have as great an impact on the manufacture of animal
feeds, fish foods, and pet foods/treats. In Alaska, this technology will become extremely important because there are large amounts of fish processing wastes as well as many under-utilized fish species that could be harvested and easily converted via Asta’s
process. As someone intimate with the seafood industry, I can also state that Asta’s technology would be important in any community where there is a vibrant fisheries industry, globally. Coupling this situation with the demand from aquaculture programs for high quality fish protein products, then, it is very easy to visualize how PPP (and/or technology) can be compared to the important role that surimi (and/or technology) played in the development of the seafood analog production in the U.S.
Having lived in Alaska since 1984 I know first hand the importance of the adoption of “green” technologies to help preserve pristine habitats. Asta’s enzymatic hydrolysis process is environmentally friendly. The raw material is completely hydrolyzed into sellable products and the only by-product that is returned to the environment is “pasteurized” water. Asta’s processing facility would be welcome virtually anywhere since its process involves no untoward environmental “footprintâ€. In fact, the very nature of this process lends itself to helping reduce residuals from other food processing facilities, albeit the predominant source of raw material for Asta’s process may be underutilized and non-marketable fish species that are abundant and very inexpensive.
When processing whole underutilized fish species or fish processing residuals Asta’s main products will be PPP, marine oils (Omega-3 complex), and bone (minerals, especially, calcium and phosphorus). From what I know of the process the amounts of each will be determined by the raw material source; i.e., salmon residuals will be high in oil and protein, whole herring will be high in oil in the summer months and low in oil during the winter months, etc. Thus, Asta could produce a PPP incorporated with oil; produce PPP with low oil content (via a press to remove the oil from PPP); oil rich in omega-3 fatty acids; and bone meal low in undesirable heavy metals (like mercury, lead, arsenic, etc).
As an important note, fish is virtually the perfect food for humans. It provides high quality proteins/nutrients/oil rich in omega-3 fatty acids. From my experience, Asta’s
PPP possesses these same properties and characteristics. It is gratifying to me that after years of my researching ways to enable the aquaculture industry to produce more fish for human consumption, Asta has a process that takes many under-utilized or non-marketable species of fish and converts them into a stable, storable powder. In addition, Asta’s PPP
is important since the timing is such that it will be commercially available at a time when there is unparalleled global demand for proteins for human consumption.
It is for the reasons listed above that I have agreed to be a consultant for Asta Ltd. I have been involved as a laboratory director (Kodiak, AK) for the National Marine Fisheries Service for 21 years and have either authored or co-authored 75 manuscripts published in peer review scientific journals dealing with the chemical, biochemical, and microbiological changes in marine foods during handling, processing, and distribution. Thus, I do not often allow my name to be associated with companies or products. I am doing so with Asta because I believe that PPP represents a truly unique source of proteins and nutrients.
NMFS Resource Enhancement & Utilization Technologies Laboratory, Kodiak, AK