Fish smokers chew on traditional cure –

Fish smokers chew on traditional cure Published:  04 February, 2005

Smoked fish could soon be getting a new lease of life, thanks to a

discovery based on a traditional Middle Eastern cure for tooth decay.

Researchers at Heriot-Watt University have discovered a new way to smoke

fish which prolongs its shelf life and kills off any bacteria, following

a chance conversation with a student using a traditional teak-wood

chewing stick.

Professor Brian Austin, Professor of Microbiology, said, “I queried one

of my PhD students about a stick of wood he was chewing. He is from

Saudi Arabia, and told me that chewing of certain woods, including the

teak stick he was using, was a traditional way to avoid dental caries in

the Middle East and Africa.

“Intrigued, we conducted a series of experiments on teak wood and

managed to extract two compounds, one already known from walnuts and one

which seems to be altogether new. Then, since we specialise in fish

breeding and some manufacturing techniques, we decided to add some teak,

about ten percent, to the usual oak chips as part of our fish-smoking

research. We were delighted to discover that the fish smoked this way

stayed fresh longer and that all bacteria was eliminated, even when we

cheated and added extra bacteria to the raw fish before smoking it!”

Professor Austin and his colleague Dr Sue Dewar are now continuing their

research into the unknown compound, and plan to conduct further

experiments into other woods used for chewing sticks. They will also be

speaking to commercial fish smokers about their research discoveries and

how they might be applied in the industry. He stresses that they will be

advising that any use of teak or other woods in the smoking process

should involve supplies from sustainable sources. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish European Fish Trader, Fishing Monthly, Fish Farming Today, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Fishermens’ Federation Diary, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.