IITA’s Food Scientist Explains Why Edible Fish Meal is used in Biscuit 

International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Food Science and Technology Associate Scientist, Emmanuel Alamu, has revealed that Edible Fish Meal (EFM) used in biscuit making process is serving as a source of macro and micronutrients while trying to reduce wheat flour input.

According to him, ‘’the biscuit is nutritionally beneficial to children and adults and is easy to store and carry, making it a perfect everyday snack and meal alternative.’’

Alamu is a Nigerian working with IITA, Zambia. He holds a doctorate degree in Food Chemistry with over 12 years of research experience and strong analytical skills in food science and nutrition, and  experienced in carrying out nutrition-sensitive agricultural research using different tools and techniques.

He has many publications in local and foreign journals. Specifically, his research lines primarily examined: the physical and bioactive characteristics of bio-fortified and non-biofortified crops such as soybean, maize, cowpea, cassava, yam; retention studies on the bioactive compounds in unprocessed and processed bio-fortified crops and foods; anti-oxidant activities/capacities of unprocessed and processed bio-fortified crops; bioavailability and bio-efficacy of processed bio-fortified crops and associated products; sensory characteristics of products from bio-fortified crops.

Biscuits are, however, consumed globally for their nutritional value and can be stored for about six months or more, depending on the packaging and recipe. Biscuits are available in a wide range of shapes, fillings, colours, and toppings, so they are accepted by consumers of all age groups.

The basic characteristic that separates a biscuit, cookie, or cracker from other baked products, such as bread or cake is a moisture content below 5%.

Biscuits, cookies, and crackers have a cereal base of at least 60%.

Major and minor ingredients used during the manufacturing of biscuits play an important role.

The chemistry behind them must be well understood by biscuit manufacturers to maintain quality and avoid batch variations.

Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis), a tree of the mulberry family (Moraceae), has large fruits and is a staple of the South Pacific and other tropical areas.

Breadfruit contains considerable amounts of starch and is seldom eaten raw. It may be roasted, baked, boiled, fried, or dried and ground into flour.

The conversion of breadfruit to flour provides a more stable storage form and enhances its versatility.

Catfish is a low-calorie, high-protein seafood that’s a great source of nutrients, including vitamin B12, selenium, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

It contains lysine as well as vitamin A, necessary for healthy growth.

The value added chain is necessary for catfish because it will encourage increased production and industrial utilisation.

This, Alamu explains, can be done by developing an EFM from catfish and using it as a nutritional supplement.

According to him, EFM is the product obtained from removing water and oil from a whole fish, thereby increasing protein and other nutrients.

EFM provides the the opportunity of using other nutrients such as calcium that are available in the fish.

He one of the researchers that carried out a study to evaluate the quality attributes of biscuits produced from EFM 0‒40%, improved quality breadfruit flour 0‒60%, and some wheat flour 0‒40%.

The materials used include the seedless variety of 600 freshly harvested breadfruit, mature catfish, wheat flour, and others get at retail.

Standard methods were used to determine the colour, texture, and other sensory attributes of the biscuit.

A numerical optimisation technique was used to predict combination/blends that produce biscuits with the desired nutritional content.


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