Freshness that results in a truly superior sensory quality
Omega-3 fish oil has and might still be associated in the minds of many with an unpleasant sensory experience. Degradation of fatty acids in the oil are known to generate off flavors such as fishiness and rancidity. At Vesteraalens we produce a omega-3 fish oil with a unique freshness by acquiring and processing the raw materials while they are still fresh. Freshness that results in a truly superior sensory quality!
Currently the regulatory and industry standards for the quality of fish oil rely on the use of traditional oxidation measurements such as peroxide and anisidine levels. There is lack of any standard to validate the actual sensory quality. Oxidation notes can be discovered sooner by sensory analysis, then by chemical analyses. Knowing flavor to be one of the most important quality aspects of food, it is key for us to be able to describe and validate the sensory quality of our products. Sensory analysis is a critical part of our daily work. We use sensory analysis for quality control purposes and batch release, following the NMKL 201 method for sensory quality control of marine oils (NMKL 201, 2017). We use sensory analysis for development projects. We are convinced of the need for the marine oil industry to move beyond solely oxidation measurements and want to set a sensory quality standard giving our customers a claimable taste guarantee. To achieve this, Vesteraalens is part of the research project QOmega3, funded by the Norwegian Seafood Research Fund (FHF) aiming to develop an industry standard in which specific requirements for the sensory quality of marine oils are established. The intended classification
consists of 3 categories:
- Gold – extra high sensory quality
- Silver – high sensory quality
- Regular sensory quality
As any other fresh food product, also a fresh fish oil is never odor and taste free. Specific sensory descriptors such as sourish (related to the presence of fatty acids), nutty, grassy and buttery, if present in low intensity, are associated with superior quality fish oil. While, presence of oxidized, fermented and process notes are associated with lower quality fish oil. On the perception of fishy notes and its sensory classification, there is ongoing discussion. Some industry claim fishiness at low intensity is acceptable in extra high sensory quality fish oil. Here we disagree. A fish oil can and should taste absolutely fresh, without any compromise on fishiness! These strict sensory quality requirements are needed to realize omega-3 food applications that can grow markets where others have failed.