Students make nutritious oil from fish waste

Kenyan consumers are set to benefit from a more nutritious and cheaper Nile Perch Viscera Oil, rich in Omega3-fatty acids courtesy of three students from the University of Nairobi, in a venture that is recycling fish waste and taking the stress off the environment and rivers where the bulk of it is disposed.

The Oil is set to rival the imported and expensive Cod liver Oil that is sought after by many parents due to its’ rich value of Omega-3 fatty acids which makes its benefits similar to the current Cod liver oil. The current retail price of Cod Liver Oil is far much higher and beyond the reach of many parents with a 100ml going for over Sh700. The Oil is set to retail at Sh300 for 100ml about half the price of the current market price for the imported   cod liver oil. “Cod liver oil is imported with the chief countries producing it being Norway, Japan, Iceland, and Poland and for that matter is more expensive which is why we are coming up with a cheaper but a more superior quality product to carter for majority of Kenyans” said Aloo Odhiambo Joseph a Food, Science and Technology student.

After, watching in dismay as most fish processing companies got rid of their wastes, Aloo set out on journey to find the use of the fish by products which were also becoming a health hazard as they were mostly dumped near rivers. “Through school knowledge, we learnt the benefits of these byproducts. We now extract the oil from the fish by products that are thrown away by fish companies mainly the belly flab trimmed from Nile Perch”, explained Aloo. The by products which are deemed of low value by the fish processing companies are subjected to heat which melts  the oil, which then undergoes a purification process to come up with the final product which will be sold as a syrup for consumption.

Although critics argue that heat damages the nutritional content in the oil especially the Omega-3 fatty acids, the scientists agree but have an explanation to support their product. Aloo noted that some content of Omega-3 is damaged by heat during the production process. “Nevertheless, we heat the by- products under a controlled system that ensures quality and during the final stages of the refinery, the content that has damaged Omega-3 is separated leaving a pure oil that contains Omega-3 by over 90 percent,” he added arguing that unlike the imported cod liver oils in the market which contain a lot of chemicals for preservation, his new found product will not contain any kind of chemical and it will be pure basing on the quality tests  it has undergone.

The oil, he explained, is good for growth, brain development and it is a health booster as it enhances one’s immunity against diseases especially children due to its high content of Vitamin A and E.  He also added that the oil is also ideal for prevention of coronary heart diseases and is over 99 percent cholesterol free.

The commercial production is in the offing pending quality tests as regards to the product’s shelf life and dosages to be administered which he hopes to accomplish by the end of the year. “When the product passes our quality tests as regards to the shelf life and dosage, we shall then be more confident to take it to the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) for standardization tests and then roll it for commercial production,” explained Aloo.

The commercial production is also expected to curb environmental pollution that is exhibited by the fish processing companies majority which have no clear procedures of waste disposal. The economic value of the product is expected to be felt widely as a number of jobs are expected to be created directly and indirectly in the production process. The residues from the product he explains are an important component for animal feeds and are expected to boost agribusiness.