Fish head, bones are rich in micronutrients – FAO

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has stated that some fish parts such as the head, bones, and trimmings, which represent 30 to 70 per cent of the whole fish, are rich in micronutrients.

The FAO disclosed this in its “In Brief: The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2024. Blue Transformation in Action,” which is available to the Ghana News Agency.

It stated that aquatic foods are considered among the healthiest foods, and their consumption is linked to improved public health outcomes.

The consumption of whole fish, it noted, provides important essential nutrients, particularly omega-three fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins, and is relatively affordable, ensuring low-income populations have access to nutritious foods.

“During processing, many parts considered not edible are often discarded, for example, the head, bones, skin, scales, and trimmings, representing 30–70 percent of the whole fish weight.”

The FAO said those parts were rich in micronutrients, and the adoption of simple low-cost technologies such as drying, smoking, fermentation, and milling can transform them into affordable and nutritious products.

“FAO supports home-grown school feeding programmes to produce aquatic foods using underutilised locally produced small fish or fish powders made from fisheries by-products.”

The organisation cited that the use in school feeding programmes of dried fish powder produced from tuna frames in Ghana and fish cake made from whole tilapia in Guatemala was highly acceptable.

It also stated that the use of whole fish improved the level of micronutrients in the meal, reduced the cost per meal, and lessened the environmental impact.

The FAO, however, added that promoting the consumption of aquatic foods and increasing public awareness of their nutritional and health benefits remained a significant challenge without up-to-date and accurate composition data on aquatic foods.

It noted that to address this gap, FAO has prepared a global nutrient conversion table for application to the FAO Supply Utilisation Accounts, based on national or regional food composition data, adding that the global table provides the data required to generate statistics on aquatic foods for energy, micronutrients, and polyunsaturated and omega-three fatty acids.

The report stated that a three-year FAO-led project was updating the International Network of Food Data Systems to expand information on the nutrient composition of small fish species, processed fish, and algae.


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