How Much To Feed A Puppy Based On Weight Uk Food Processing Industry How Do They Make – Fish Sticks?

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Food Processing Industry How Do They Make – Fish Sticks?

This article is part of a series that will uncover the secrets of the food industry and share with you the secrets of how your favorite foods are made.

The first article in this series starts with the humble fish stick or fish finger. A childhood treat, and an adult favorite either on a plate with peas and chips or between slices of white bread. BUT always served with tomato ketchup.

The fish

The first component is the fish, this is a frozen block of approx. 2 feet by 1 foot by 3 inches. It is made from fish mince (cheaper end of the market), this is usually all the leftover fish pieces. Or it can be made from whole fillets stacked on top of each other (the expensive end of the market).

To be honest, there isn’t that much difference between the two. The type of fish can be COD for the expensive end or tough for the cheaper sticks. These blocks are made within hours of the boat landing, meaning the fish is about 6 hours old when frozen.

Making the stick

Using a food processing band saw, skilled operators cut the block into slabs and then cut it back into fingers. The more expensive the thicker the finger, the cheaper the thinner. Typically, a good fish finger will be around 1cm thick, whereas the cheaper ones can be 0.5cm. These sticks are then separated and taken to the coating stage.

Addition of breadcrumbs

Similar to what you see in restaurants or TV shows, the fish is coated in a batter and then breadcrumbs. BUT this is really where the cheapness is added. If you buy cheap fish sticks, they add a layer of water, a layer of flour, a layer of dough, a layer of breadcrumbs. In the trade, this is called a 4-pass and can add up to 70% breadcrumbs to the stick. This type can often be identified as it is extra crispy and almost no fish. The high-end fishing rods have a 3 pass system and often have a fish content of around 60%.

So in your 300g pack of fish sticks you could have 90g of fish (cheap) or 210g (expensive)

This whole process is done through a food processing production line of automatic coating machines. Typically, a line can produce 100-200 fish fingers per minute.

Roasting time

Up to this point the fish stick is quite healthy and almost fat free….. However, the stick passes through an industrial deep fryer with hot oil. This makes the coating extra crispy, this is because the water in the coating has been replaced with very hot oil. Typically, all the water in the coating is replaced with fat.

This means that the more coating the more fat, now food processors typically use vegetable oil or rapeseed oil. None of them have saturated fat

Frozen and sent in the freezer

Within 30 minutes of frying, the product has been frozen and grouped, then put into the food processing machine before being sent to stores.

Given the speed of the fish freezing process and the packaging process, you couldn’t make a fish fresher if you tried.

Final judgment

Compared to other coated products such as chicken strips, fish sticks or fish fingers are healthier, fresher and have fewer additives. So I would definitely put Fish sticks first before other coated products.

If I choose a fish stick I try to get the ones that have a high fish content, this is typically shown as a % in the ingredient declaration. This often means that it is made with whole fish, not minced, and has a lower fat content.

The type of fish really doesn’t matter, some would argue that a cod finger is the best, but be honest, you’re going to dip it in ketchup. Once you’ve done that, I doubt you’ll notice a difference, other than your wallet being a little less full.

Each week I plan to reveal how everyday food products are made.

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