NEW Article: Post-harvest treatment of Ulva with food process waters

Food process waters increase the protein levels of Ulva and retain important food sensory attributes

The growing human population demands new and sustainable protein sources and seaweed aquaculture can contribute to reach this utterly important goal. In our previous studies we were able to show that sea-based cultivation of Ulva is an effective method for farming these green seaweeds on a large scale with high biomass output. Nevertheless, the quality and biochemical composition of the biomass is seasonally dependent, and this limits the harvests to certain periods of the year.

Therefoe, our new study outlines the possibility to extend the sea-based cultivation season of the crop Ulva fenestrata to achieve both, high-biomass yiels and high protein levels, by post-harvest treatment in herring production process waters.

We can show that the post-harvest treatment of U. fenestrata harvested at optimal yield conditions, can increase the protein levels in the biomass significantly and making it economically more competetive and interesting. We assessed the biomass yield, crude protein content, amino acid composition, and content of the health concerning metals arsenic, mercury, lead, and cadmium, as well as the sensory properties of the biomass. Our study revealed that after post-harvest cultivation in the process waters, biomass yields were significantly higher compared to in seawater and the crude protein and amino acid content increased three to five times in the process waters. To test for its market application, the protein enriched biomass followed food graded standards for heavy metal content, and consumption of the biomass does not exceed health based reference points. Another important part is the sensory attributes of the biomass and we can show, that no sensory attributes regarded as negative were found. We herewith provide a rapid and circular post-harvest method which enables to extend the cultivation season of sea-based seaweed farms, by maximizing their output of sustainable proteins.

Our new publication “Post-harvest cultivation with seafood process waters improves protein levels of Ulva fenestrata while retaining important food sensory attributes” is availabe with open access at Frontiers in Marine Science.

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