It’s been a long-standing problem in the food industry: how to remove smaller bones from fish fillets, especially salmon and trout. These fine bones, called pin bones, are difficult to remove and often detract from the pleasure of eating fine fish. In fact, many view the presence of pin bones to be a significant deterrent to fish consumption.
In an effort to support Alaska’s commercial fishing industry, researchers Lawrence V. Kozycki and Gregory Shipman at the University of Alaska Fairbanks invented a pneumatic device that pulls these bones from fish. Their research, which received funding from the Alaska Science and Technology Foundation, the United States Department of Agriculture, the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute, and University of Alaska president Mark Hamilton, began in 1997, and is ongoing.
The compact, tabletop machine was developed for fish markets, grocery stores, fish smokers, individual fishermen, off- and on-shore processors, and restaurants. These small businesses cannot afford the large, expensive processing equipment used by the big processors. Marketed as Pin Bone Wizard™, it is more affordable than existing pin bone pullers and far more effective at removing bones from muscular, wild-caught fish. It can also pull neck bones (which lie on a different plane than pin bones) and does not break bones that are difficult to pull.
The flesh of the fillet remains undamaged, providing an attractive product.
The Geophysical Institute markets and sells the Pin Bone Wizard™. Interest has come from around the world, including Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, Iceland, Australia, Canada and the countries of Scandinavia. The patented pulling mechanism is also being distributed to major manufacturers of fish-processing equipment for use in larger, automated, pin-bone removal machines used in processing plants.
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