recommends that seafood be consumed twice a week. Why? In addition to being a low fat, low calorie protein, the important nutrients in seafood are essential for a variety of brain and body functions and disease prevention, and cannot be found in other foods. An important goal of the school nutrition program is to offer healthful meals that substantially contribute to a student’s ability to learn in the classroom and be physically active throughout the day. Offering high quality seafood entrees on a consistent basis is necessary to meet this important goal.
Once-frozen Genuine Alaska Pollock is a wild protein, caught in the frigid waters of the Bering Sea and processed without additives. In other words, it is clean, wholesome protein. This raw material is used to make a variety of un-breaded and breaded entrée items for schools.
Purchasing once-frozen, Genuine Alaska Pollock products means you are buying a 100% pure, high- quality usable protein that maintains a high nutrient profile. You don’t have to purchase larger quantities to meet a serving requirement since no weight is lost - as it is in products where water or other liquids have been added. There is no need to factor in loss for bone, skin or fat as there is for some raw protein products.
Some U.S. schools serve little or no fish, citing fishy odors, fishy taste and low participation as the most common reasons for not offering fish entrees. In almost every case these excuses are caused by uninformed purchasing or poor handling of seafood. High quality seafood should never smell or taste fishy. If it does, it is probably a sign that the product has been produced with a low quality raw material, or has had temperature abuse during processing or transportation, and it should not be served. The highest quality seafood products are made from once-frozen raw materials. Seafood is a delicate protein and when it is frozen, thawed, and re-frozen, moisture and nutrients are lost. Water and chemicals may be added to twice-frozen seafood before re-freezing to replace lost moisture, and the quality of the omega-3 fatty acids may be comprised. The additives can cause rubbery texture and sometimes a soapy taste. Multiple freezing and thawing cycles may also speed the oxidation of fats, leading to a fishy smell and taste.
Twice-frozen seafood products typically cost less per serving than higher quality, once-frozen seafood products. The price may be low, but the actual cost is high. Students don’t get maximum health benefits (or no benefits if they don’t consume it), and they are less likely to choose a fish entrée again. The program looses the money it has invested in the product and any other entrée components plus staff preparation time; and the program does not get as much reimbursement if the meal is not a popular choice.
When figuring costs, compute the cost per total entrée serving rather than just the cost per pound as you may have to purchase more of a protein to get the desired serving yield. Click here for a chart you can use to compare common school lunch entrees with a Genuine Alaska Pollock entrée.
Before purchasing, we recommend first conducting taste tests with your staff to compare the taste and texture of a lower cost seafood item with a similar but higher cost one. Once your staff is on board with a high quality product, conduct taste tests with students.
Once-frozen, Genuine Alaska Pollock is now a USDA Food. This is the highest quality processed Alaska pollock available and a great value for your USDA food dollars. Work with your manufacturer to determine the products that will give you the most menu flexibility and customer satisfaction.
School menus have traditionally reflected a pretty narrow selection of fish entrees; fish & chips, fish sticks or nuggets and a fish sandwich. Once you have selected a high quality fish product, capitalize on its familiarity by offering it in new, updated ways. If a menu idea uses chicken, it can probably be successfully done with fish. Click here for student-tested recipes and menu concepts.
Using the same product in multiple variations not only increases menu variety but keeps volumes high for purchasing and distribution and limits distributor SKUs. It also simplifies staff training of product preparation and holding.
Once-frozen, Genuine Alaska Pollock is a great value for your purchasing dollar, delivering:
- high quality, low fat protein high in essential nutrients
- products with delicious taste and appearance profiles
- products high in menu concept flexibility
- entrees that are enthusiastically prepared and promoted by staff
- entrees that are consistently selected and consumed by students