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Ocean pout: the magic food modifier

Posted by Rob Anderson  September 29, 2010 10:27 AM

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ocean pout pic.jpgIn the recent controversy over genetically engineered salmon, much of the attention has been focused on protesting the freakishly fast-growing salmon rather than celebrating the ocean pout, the eel-ish creature that was the source of the Superfish gene. And even less attention has been focused on the pout's other culinary contribution: less-fattening ice cream.

The pout has a protein in its blood that keeps its tissues from crystallizing at normally freezing temperatures, which allows it to live in colder water. One ice cream maker saw opportunity in this—ice cream that melts at a lower temperature requires less cream, and therefore is less fattening—and developed a synthetic version of that gene for use in its products. The FDA gave it the go-ahead and voila! Less melty ice cream.

The key word there is "synthetic" — the ice cream isn't made from the fish's protein, but an artificial protein that has been derived from it. (Similar processes are used to make some vitamins and vegetarian cheeses.) All of which makes fish-inspired rocky road more appetizing than, say, pink grapefruit juice, which commonly gets its perfectly pink hue from the actual shell of an actual beetle. Delicious.

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ABOUT THE ANGLE Online commentary and news analysis from the Boston Globe. The Angle is produced by Rob Anderson and Alan Wirzbicki. You can follow Rob on Twitter at @rcand.

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