Research investigates the reasons for bad fish taste – University of Copenhagen

07 February 2017

Research investigates the reasons for bad fish taste

This news is redirected by The Secretariat for Development Cooperation at SCIENCE from the Department of Plants and Environmental Sciences.

This news has been translated by the Secretariat for Development Cooperation of Science and therefore might differ from the original article in Danish.

The quality of farmed freshwater fish is degraded due to microorganisms in the water, which precipitate foul-smelling and toxic substances. International research projects investigate how to get rid of the bad taste.

If you have experienced that fish and drinking water has tasted earthy it might very well be due to the substances geosmin and MIB (2-methylisoborneol). These substances have caused problems for fishfarming globally.

"In 2001 a Danish fish farmer pointed out that a great challenge of fish farming was that the fish sometimes had a residual flavour, which has shown to be an international problem in many fish farms," according to associate professor in biotechnology and microbiel ecology Niels O.G. Jørgensen from Institute of Plant and Environmental Sciences at University.

He is one of the leading researchers in a number of freshwater projects aiming to improve the taste of fish from freshwater farms. One of the projects is currently based in Bangladesh under the name BangFish. In Bangladesh the earthy taste in the fish has consequences for the export, says Niels O.G. Jørgensen - and this is a great problem in a producer land.

"In our projects we focus on the microorganisms which contribute to reducing the fish' quality. With this knowledge we can improve the fish quality and thereby make the population in the producing countries eat more fish and at the same time secure the fish export in the long term," he says and states that 45% of all fish products today originate from farms, which makes it absolute necessity to maintain a good general quality of fish.

Projects and cooperations

The research started in Denmark and continued with another project in Australia, where focus was drinking water. Since then fish farm projects have been established in Bangladesh (BangFish) with support from Danida in cooperation with local fish guilds and later a project in Brazil (IMPCON), which is supported by Innovation Fund Denmark and the research council FAPESP. Together the projects make up a great international cooperation which also include several European countries and educate PhD students across borders.

Read more in Danish about the research.