in high quality breaded fish portions, fish sandwiches, fish sticks, value-added seafood entrées and surimi seafoods. A cousin to cod, Alaska pollock is caught in the wild and is known for its white meat, flaky texture and mild flavor. It should not be confused with Atlantic pollock, which has darker meat and a stronger flavor.
Why is USDA offering Alaska Pollock for school meal programs?
Alaska pollock is a great source of lean protein and provides many nutrients that are essential for a child’s development. The 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that seafood be consumed twice a week. The Institute of Medicine’s school meal recommendations and USDA’s Healthier U.S. School Challenge criteria advise an increased use of lean proteins such as fish and chicken.
Is Alaska Pollock a high quality fish?
Yes. USDA has specified that only once-frozen Alaska Pollock is purchased under the program. This is the highest quality Alaska Pollock available on the market. It also guarantees that the fish is caught by U.S. boats and processed in the United States, either on the boats, or at plants near the fishing grounds. Fish is a delicate protein, and freezing only once maintains its high level of nutrients, delicious flavor and delicate texture.
Aren’t all fish caught and processed in the United States?
No. Some fish are caught by foreign fishing fleets, minimally processed and frozen, then shipped to China, thawed, processed into blocks and frozen again. Manufacturers also buy these blocks to make commercial products for schools.
Are there significant health benefits to adding high quality fish to the diet?
Yes. Continuing research shows that children can benefit greatly by including fish in their diets. Specifically, studies have shown that seafood consumption can be beneficial in children’s brain and retina development; and can reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, allergies, mental disorders, ADHD, and behavioral problems.
Is Alaska Pollock a good value for my USDA Foods entitlement dollars?
Yes. Products made with once frozen, Genuine Alaska Pollock usually meet both the protein and bread recommendations for school meal patterns. The protein is highly digestible, low in fat and provides a number of essential nutrients.
Students and staff sometimes complain that they don’t like the fishy smell and taste of fish entrees. Will once-frozen, Genuine Alaska Pollock products be different?
Student taste tests show that kids love the taste of once-frozen Genuine Alaska Pollock. High quality fish and shellfish should never smell or taste “fishy.” If your staff or students complain that the cafeteria smells bad when fish is served, then the product that you are buying is of inferior quality or has been handled incorrectly at some point in the supply chain.
Where can I find more information about fish recipes, marketing and staff training?
The Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers is committed to providing a wide range of information and support for schools. These include sourcing information, recipes and menu concepts, merchandising resources and nutrition information.