Oily feedstock: NMR tests cosmetic raw materials

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  • Published: Mar 15, 2015
  • Author: David Bradley
  • Channels: NMR Knowledge Base
thumbnail image: Oily feedstock: NMR tests cosmetic raw materials


Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy has been used to test food industry waste, specifically waste material from fish and oilseed rape, which contains useful proteins and other substances that can be extracted for use in cosmetics and other non-food products that nevertheless require stringent quality and safety controls. Photo by David Bradley

The farmed salmon industry is huge, but once the fillets are taken from the fish, half of its weight remains in the rest raw material form: off-cuts such as heads, dorsal fins and viscera. Similarly, while industrial rapeseed (Brassica napus, one variety of which is known as canola in the US) plants are grown across vast, bright yellow fields, it is only the black seeds from the plant that are needed to extract rapeseed oil. The stems, leaves and flowers are by-products. Moreover, once the oil is extracted, there is a large mass of seed mass that is not considered to be the main product. In recent years, the remains of the seeds have been used in animal feed and as a source of biomass for conversion into biofuels. But, there are much more valuable substance that remain.

The independent Scandinavian research organisation SINTEF has led one of the APROPOS project's seven work packages with the aim of developing environmentally friendly process technology for make use of these waste raw materials from fish filleting.

Food and non-food

"We have worked with both salmon and Nile perch rest raw materials and have analysed the oil and proteins from the fish rest raw materials, as well as components from rape and mustard seeds processing co-streams", explains SINTEF's Rasa Slizyte. She and colleagues used NMR spectroscopy to monitor the freshness of the fish raw materials in storage.

Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy has been used to test quality changes in rest raw materials from the fish filleting industry . This raw material contains valuable proteins, lipids and other substances that can be extracted for use in food, animal feed formulations, cosmetics and other non-food products that nevertheless require stringent quality and safety controls.


Quality changes in marine products can be detected by sensory evaluation and determining chemical changes by using classical standard analysis methods. However, sensory methods are subjective, time and demanding on human resources, while many traditional chemical methods are time consuming and not sensitive enough. It has thus been difficult to follow quality and chemical changes of such materials in storage and to describe how this depends on various parameters. Therefore more sensitive and advanced techniques, specifically NMR spectroscopy, have been used to indicate quality changes during storage as well as the release of bioactive components which is important factor in processing. "Generally, NMR is a powerful and useful tool for food quality evaluation," Slizyte told SpectroscopyNOW. "It is a non-targeted approach that allows simultaneous characterization of a wide number of fish metabolites determining fish quality on a molecular level." This makes NMR spectroscopy a valid and, in many aspects, unique tool to characterize the quality of fish and fish rest raw materials.

The APROPOS project looked for the influence of different factors in various salmon rest raw materials, storage temperature and time, homogenisation before storage on the changes of quality parameters followed by NMR spectroscopy. For analysis of these changes the team used the following NMR techniques: 1D 1H; 2D TOCSY; 2D 13C HSQC.

The Norwegian team has also identified better ways to extract high-quality oils from fish without using the standard high-temperature approach. They use a low temperature separation and a hydrolysis to then extract the useful proteins. "This leaves us with two high-quality products. And the process is very profitable", explains Slizyte. The approach will provide better quality oil, protein and bone fractions with higher nutritional value as well as releasing active protein components for use in food and non-food products.

Heat can be used to extract oils from fish rest raw materials, but this denatures proteins present in the raw material and so reduces the yields of solubilised proteins. Now, new industrial processes have allowed researchers to extract high quality valuable proteins, antioxidants and oils from salmon rest raw materials. Provided that the odour of the original material can be eradicated, these extracts can be used in health foods, nutritional supplements and skin care products and cosmetics. The work has been carried out as part of the European Union's APROPOS project which has sought alternative processing techniques that preclude organic solvents and finds marketable materials extract from rape seed and fish processing rest raw resources that would otherwise be used for nothing more adventurous than conventional animal feed.

As well as possible use with nanoparticles in cosmetic products, there are extracts that might be used in healthcare products as anti-inflammatory agents, antioxidants and antimicrobial products.

Related Links

SINTEF, Proposal: "Added value from high protein and oil industrial co-streams (APROPOS)"

Article by David Bradley

The views represented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.

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