Julia Bradbury and a group of young consumers discover how fish and seafood end up inside everything from hairspray and beer to perfume and guitars.
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From the clothes we wear to the cars we drive,
from what we use to look good to what we use to relax...
-..our lives are full of products,
and our products are full of animals.
In the past few years, I've learned a lot about how the meat we eat
reaches our plates. But I've always wondered what happens
to the bits of the animal that we don't eat.
It turns out these leftover parts are made into things we use every day...
That's a symbolic noise for, like, leather.
..as well as some things you couldn't even imagine.
Oh, my God!
My face is on fire!
I've never, ever smelled anything like that.
'To find out how, I'm going on extraordinary journey
'to see these raw animal parts transformed into shiny new products.
'And I'm going to be joined by the people who use them to see what they make of it.'
-Sheep need to get slaughtered.
-Will we be in the room?
Oh, my God!
Mine had a testicle on it!
Oh, don't film me being sick!
'We'll be going behind the doors of unknown companies and into hidden worlds...'
That is such a weird vision! Just skin hanging there.
This is when we see what's inside the chest.
I don't think that's going to go in there.
'..and discovering what makes these animal leftovers indispensable.'
-I can't even look at it!
-What am I doing here with these?
Could knowing that so many of our favourite items
contain animals change the way we feel about them forever?
Tonight I'm looking at fish and seafood.
Whether it's cod and chips or salmon sashimi,
by the time our delicious seafood dishes have reached our plates,
there's a trail of leftovers that some clever companies can turn into products.
The heads, guts and bones of the fish we eat
end up in all sorts of things - perfume, hairspray, even beer.
I want to know how they get in there and what they're doing in there.
-That is really disgusting.
-Don't like it, then?
-No, not at all.
To find out, I'll get hands-on around the fishing hubs of Europe...
Ugh! I got a bit of fish juice in my mouth then.
..visiting manufacturers and factories
to find out how they turn our fishy leftovers
-into some of our favourite items.
-Oh, my God! It's a fish!
I've heard a lot of hair products contain fish by-products,
so I'm starting my journey in Iceland,
one of the UK's major fish suppliers.
'I'm travelling to a town called Siglufjordur,
'25 miles outside the Arctic Circle,
'to find out more. But I'm not doing this alone.'
'I'm Emily. I work in the beauty department of a London store.'
'I'm Rachel. I work as a model.
'Emily and I have been best friends since the start of secondary school.'
We both do take pride in our appearance.
We spend a lot of time doing each other's hair,
make-up. I think society's got to a point now
where it reaches everything. You have to look good.
Try that on. It's really pretty.
-I really like it.
-Hair is a big part of that.
I think it's probably one of the first things you look at
when you see somebody, is their hair and what it's like.
For these girls, keeping up appearances means one thing -
Every other day I wash my hair, putting shampoo and conditioner in it.
-'Then volumising mousse.'
-Then I have a hair serum
-for the ends of my hair.
-I would put a heat-defencing spray,
-protect it from the blow-dry.
-A curl-boosting mousse,
a fabricator spray, which basically volumises the roots.
After that, cover it with hairspray,
and I'd reapply it several times during the day.
-And I thought
-That's really nice.
-Really nice and soft.
But how much do they know about what's in their products?
I do think about what goes into the products,
but a lot of the time I don't understand what's written on the back of packets.
You get to a stage where you don't know what you're putting on.
So is there any ingredient that could put these girls off
their beloved products?
I've been vegetarian for about 20 years.
If I found out that my favourite hair product
or contained any raw animal product,
blubber or...I don't know, some fish oils or something like that,
I would be so upset. Really upset.
From North London to the North Pole -
well, not quite the North Pole, but it's near enough.
These girls are about to join me for a journey
that could change their beauty regime forever.
There's a fish by-product called chitosan,
used in some hair products, that increases hold
without making the hair stiff.
We're meeting Bjorn Valdimarsson, from fishing company Rammi,
to find out exactly how seafood ends up in hairspray.
-Hello, hello! Nice to see you!
-Nice to see you!
-Right, say hello to Bjorn.
-Nice to meet you.
-Nice to meet you.
-Welcome to Iceland.
-This is the first time?
-It is, absolutely.
Any idea why you're here?
-There's a smell of fish at the moment.
-Got the smell?
-Got the smell.
Have you heard of a product called chitosan?
-No, we haven't.
-Chitosan is found in hair products.
-Right. I've never heard of it.
-What is it, Bjorn?
-Well, I will not tell you now.
First we will go to this boat, out to sea,
and afterwards you will find out what it is.
Ah, we're going on the boat! It'll be an adventure. Come on, girls.
The trawler we're using can hold 20 tons of fish.
It goes out in treacherous seas for five to six days,
fishing deep in the Arctic Circle, where the water is purer.
-Ever been fishing before?
-I'm vegetarian, so I definitely don't go fishing.
This is a tough job,
in cramped conditions and freezing temperatures.
-How do you feel about this, then?
-Um, a bit nervous.
-What have fish got to do with hair products? It's going to be quite interesting.
We're not going out as far as the fishermen normally do,
but even these relatively calm waters will test our sea legs.
-I'm feeling really seasick.
-OK. All right.
-Genuinely a bit worried. Going to throw up.
-Are you OK?
-Oh, don't film me being sick!
-Are you feeling seasick?
-A little bit.
A little bit. Actually a lot. Oh, dear. Dear, dear.
-Em, you not feeling well, lovely?
-I'm not feeling very well.
-Oh, poor thing!
-It's the boat rocking up and down.
-It's quite motiony.
-I'm fine when I'm looking at the horizon.
-OK. Keep looking, then.
-How you doing?
-Yeah, I'm all right.
-I'm coping at the moment.
'I'm not letting a touch of nautical nausea hinder my mission.
'Unfortunately, ladies, you're going to have to suck it up.
'Well, not literally, though.'
What are we fishing for today?
-Today we're fishing prawns.
Because you were asking about chitosan,
and the answer to that question is in the prawns.
-So chitosan comes from prawns?
'Finally we have the first piece of the hair-product puzzle.
'Chitosan, which is a key ingredient of hairspray, comes from prawns.
'But I'm still not exactly sure how it ends up there.
'Below deck, a haul of prawns is dumped onto a conveyor belt,
'which the girls and I have to sort from other fish in the catch.'
-It's in here.
Oh, my God!
'Each haul is about two tons,
'and takes around eight hours to sift through.'
-There you go. Catch!
'Owner Gustaf insists we work at the speed his crew normally work at,
'pulling out the unwanted fish, which, according to Bjorn,
'are sold at the local market.'
-Oh! It's so...
-You use lots of hair products.
I did not realise they were using prawn in my hair.
-I am never eating fish again.
-You're never eating fish again?
-I am never using hair products again.
You're saying that's... Over there, over there.
-Got one, got one, got one.
-You're absolutely sure about that?
-This is going on my hair.
-But we don't know how yet.
That is true, but...
-Oh, look. Roe.
-That's the eggs.
-I really hope it's not the eggs that go into my hair.
How are you feeling about hair products now, then?
I really don't know how I feel about hair products.
I guess if it was maybe, like, fish oils, or...
that seems logical to go into a product,
but prawns - that didn't even cross my mind.
That's exactly what it is. I still haven't got it in my mind's eye...
-..what this product is,
and how it makes its way into hair stuff.
'At this stage there's still no obvious link to hairspray,
'so we follow the trail to the prawn factory.
'Here our catch is boiled to prepare for processing.
'It's just a small part of the four and a half million prawns
'processed here every day.'
-So, what's going on here, Bjorn?
-This is the prawn-peeling plant.
And here we peel and clean and freeze and pack the prawns.
Where do they go, the majority of these?
Most of these go to the UK, to England,
so if you buy a prawn sandwich when you go back home...
It probably came out of here. Now I know the history of the prawn.
-Where does the chitosan come from? Which bit?
-From the shells.
It is from the shells? Ah!
These are the peelers. The peelers take the shell from the prawns.
So the machine does it all? The machine takes the shell off?
Yes. It takes all the shells from the prawn.
-Separates the meat and the rest of it?
From here, the prawns are checked by an ultraviolet machine
for any remaining shell, before being frozen, packed
and sent to Britain.
But we're more interested in the stuff that's falling under the machines.
What looks like waste, the antennae, the legs, the shells,
is in fact a key ingredient in the global beauty industry.
They're all still just shells. How does it become this product?
That is the next part of the story.
We have to go next door to another factory,
and I will show you that.
Chitosan comes from chitin, which is the major component of a prawn shell.
It's the chitin that gives the shell its toughness and durability,
so it can protect the soft tissues of the prawn.
Although the value of chitosan as by-product has been known for years,
the lack of manufacturing facilities in the town
have meant the shells were simply dumped into the sea.
In 1999, that changed. After three years of research,
the company Primex developed the ability
to turn raw shells into chitosan on an industrial scale.
-That is really disgusting.
Each one of these trucks contains 13 tons of shells,
which will be processed into 250 kilos of chitosan.
I'm not putting that in my hair.
'Chances are you already have.
'We ask the company's Segovic Valsdottir
'if we can get hands-on.'
-Can we have a go with the...
-Oh, yes. Of course you can.
We're in it! Let's do it!
Why use the hose? Why so much water?
It's necessary for the prawn, for cleaning them,
and also to throw them up to the tanks
for the pressure.
-They look like prawn soup.
-It really does.
It doesn't look very appetising.
Nothing at the moment that I want to put on my hair either.
'Having followed the prawn from the ocean,
'we finally get to see the first major transformation.
'After we hose them down, the shells are mixed with hydrochloric acid
'to remove the calcium, and then mixed with sodium hydroxide
'which is commonly known as caustic soda,
'to remove protein and colour.'
Oh! It's like little particles of plastic.
'According to Primex, removing protein lowers the risk
'of allergic reactions to shellfish.'
It doesn't look like a shell or a meat, or...
It smells of nothing.
'From here on in, the transformations are quicker
'and more dramatic.'
Let me see the chitin. Oh, wow!
'The white sludge is pressed and dried into chitin.
'This sawdust-like material is what gives shells their strength.'
-It's not still chitosan.
Now the next stage will be to convert into chitosan.
-This is the lab. Go on.
'So, from factory floor to the science lab,
'and chitosan expert Dr Einar Matthiasson.
'Finally we get to see some chitosan.'
-So here you have it!
-Yeah. Here we have it.
This we've seen before. This is like a sawdust.
-This is it, yeah. The chitin.
-But this is finally chitosan?
-This is the final product.
-So it's been ground down.
-So it's processed into a powder?
So, simply, in as non-scientific a way as you can,
tell me what this product is.
Basically this is a long-chain biopolymer.
-See, I said make it simple.
How does it work in a hair product, a hairspray?
-What does it do?
-It increases shininess
and gloss of the product. It increases volume.
It prevents split ends of hair,
also can moisturise it as well, and so on.
So when you look at a hair product, why on the label doesn't it say
that this is derived from an animal, it's an animal product?
Because we didn't know what chitosan was.
You'd look at that, and you'd never think that was an animal.
It's mainly because this is a well known raw material
to industry, and they don't have to say exactly where it comes from.
-And do you only find chitosan in prawns?
No. You find it in fungi and mushrooms.
And you mostly supply the hair industry with chitosan,
-so the chances are it's prawn-derived chitosan.
Can you answer this question? Here you've got this powder.
How does it become the hair product?
I think you have to ask the manufacturer
who's buying this from us, because he has all the secrets.
Ah, so this scientist isn't revealing!
So we haven't quite finished our journey.
This eye-opening journey feels like it's finally reaching conclusion.
It's amazing to follow a process like this.
And now for the final step - the product.
It's a surprisingly simple process when you know how.
The basic ingredients for making hairspray
are chitosan, water,
citric acid and ethanol.
The first step is to add chitosan to water.
Citric acid helps the chitosan to dissolve
and make a thick solution,
which when mixed further becomes a gel.
Ethanol is then mixed into the gel.
Ethanol makes the gel dry quicker when applied to the hair.
Once dry, it hardens, holding the hair in any style you like -
just not that one.
Making hairspray follows the same process,
but more water and ethanol are added,
to make a more diluted solution which can then be sprayed.
The other ingredients added by manufacturers
are the perfumes, colours and preservatives.
And there you have it.
As well as making our hair funky, chitosan has some amazing properties
that have led to the development of new wound-healing creams and diet pills.
Not so long ago we were out there fishing for prawns.
I don't have an issue, because I eat the prawns,
so that for me is fine. The fact that the shell is used in this way,
is this miracle product, think is fantastic. Vegetarian -
moral dilemma. What will you do about your hair product?
For ethical reasons, now I know it has come from a creature,
I'm going to go home and check all my products,
and any ones that do contain... contain the ingredient,
I think will be chucked out. I couldn't use it.
I'd imagine the prawns on my hair otherwise.
-I just have a newfound respect for the humble prawn.
'If Rachel was freaked out by prawns in hairspray,
'I wonder how she'd feel about whales in perfume.'
That's why I'm really interested in ambergris.
I know it's a substance that comes from whales,
and I know it's been prized in the perfume industry for centuries.
But I don't know exactly what it is, and I don't know if it's still used today.
Where once an A-list film star may have endorsed a perfume,
nowadays even WAGs are releasing their own ranges.
The latest figures show UK retailers sold over £1 billion of perfume,
up nearly nine percent on the previous year.
I wonder how many people know their perfumes may contain
something that comes from a whale.
-I definitely didn't know that.
-What do you think of that?
-Don't buy it.
I'll never be able to use perfume again.
'Now, I had the same reaction when I found out about ambergris.
'Whales aren't fish. They're mammals,
'and hunting them is cruel, unethical and unacceptable.
'I love my perfumes, but...'
If it's got "whale" on the label, for me, it's a big, fat, non-negotiable "no".
I'm aware that ambergris has a real mystique around it.
Medieval mariners called it "floating gold".
The ancient Chinese called it "dragon spittle".
'But commercial whale-hunting has been illegal for quarter of a century,
'so the first thing to find out is if ambergris is still being used.'
Perfume recipes are closely guarded secrets.
So will I be able to get a top perfumier to share some with me
if I'm really nice?
Floris perfumier on London's Jermyn Street
has a client list stretching back to the year 1730.
It made perfumes for kings and queens,
prime ministers, movie stars - even Ian Fleming,
the creator of James Bond.
'I'm hoping to apply some 007-style charm
'on head perfume designer Shelagh Foyle,
'to see if she'll reveal the company secrets,
'starting with the use of animal parts.'
Are animal parts or by-products used in perfumes these days?
We used to obtain musk from the musk pods
which were removed from the deer.
I believe it's their scent-marking glands.
In times gone by, they were worth more than their weight in gold.
'But to remove the pod, you need a dead deer.'
-It came from beaver.
We've used ingredients from civet cat,
and to obtain that, the cat is irritated
by often poking it with sticks or some other process,
and then it's milked.
So would it be fair to say it's frowned upon
to use any real animal part or animal product
today in the perfume industry?
We use the manmade, synthetic alternatives.
We just don't want to use anything that causes harm.
But is it used to your knowledge?
Would anything from an animal be used?
Not necessarily something that would harm the animal.
The only natural ingredient that is probably still used
-may be ambergris.
-It's funny you should mention ambergris,
because that's what I'm on a mission to find out about.
I know it's something to do with whales,
which I'm not happy about at all. You obviously don't use it.
-We don't use it, no.
-Do you know where I can get any,
-where I can see some, smell some?
-What - natural ambergris?
-I've no idea.
'Now, if animal parts from deer, beavers and cats
'are no longer used to make us smell good,
'why are whale parts still used?
'I think I'll need to get my hands on some actual ambergris
'to find out.'
'After a bit more research, I found a perfume place
'called Le Labo. Packaged in a contemporary style,
'this shop sells 13 fragrances, which are prepared in front of the customer
'and personalised with a printed name tag.
'I've heard they might have some ambergris products,
'and I'm meeting lab assistant Sandy Sidhu to find out.'
I'm really interested in this product ambergris.
-Do you have it here?
-I'm afraid we don't have it here,
but what we do have is the synthetic musk equivalent
-to the ambergris...
..which is actually the Ambrox, which is over here.
-It's actually a nice smell.
-Yes. It's very subtle,
but very sensual, and very long-lasting on the skin.
It's one you want to keep smelling.
Do you think I'm going to find the real thing?
Um, I don't think that would be possible.
What we use is the Ambrox, which is the synthetic musk,
which you usually can get. But what I can tell you
is that ambergris is taken from the sperm whales,
but it's very, very rare, as well.
You might want to try and go out to sea.
Come on, Sandy. Be a bit more encouraging.
'Right. I've learned that ambergris is still used in perfumes,
'and it comes from a sperm whale.
'It's time to find out what it is, and why it's OK to use it.'
So far no real ambergris,
but I've been given a tip-off about a perfumier
called Roja Dove, and he may be able to help me.
He's a big noise in the nose world.
Roja Dove is a fragrance academic, historian and author.
'I've been told I'll be in the presence of the prince of perfume.'
"Ambergree". Have I been saying it correctly?
Ambergris, most people in Britain call it. Ambergris.
I haven't actually come across the real deal,
the product itself. Does it still exist?
Ambergris itself exists, because it's a natural phenomenon.
It's a natural excretion from the whales.
Ambergris is formed when sperm whales swallow squid.
The squid have hard, parrot-like beaks,
which can't be digested, and irritate the intestine of the whale.
A natural defence is that the whale forms a waxy piece
around the beak, a little bit like a grain of sand in an oyster
forms a pearl. But the problem is, this waxy piece gets bigger
and bigger, and the whale needs to expel it,
a little bit like a cat honks up a furball.
SHE LAUGHS It's the same sort of thing.
And so the waxy paste floats on the oceans,
and in fact for ambergris to be used traditionally in perfumery,
we have to take it from the sea,
because an oxidation occurs on the ambergris,
and it's the reaction of the salt and the sun
which gives ambergris its odour.
Would whales ever be hunted for this product?
It wouldn't be extracted from inside the whale?
To my knowledge, I don't believe the whale has ever been hunted
for ambergris, because it would be useless. It would have no odour.
-So it has to have been honked.
-It has to have been honked. Honking is essential.
So there you have it.
Whale puke plus some salty sea air
equals the perfect perfume ingredient.
Is it still used today in the industry?
To my knowledge, yes.
If somebody is making a very luxurious scent,
then natural ambergris is something they might choose to still use
-within the formula.
-So there are a few perfumeries
in the world that will have a supplier of ambergris?
So, if your budget will stretch to a luxury brand,
you'll find ambergris in scents made by top labels like Hermes,
Balmain, and what's believed to be the Beckhams' favourite, Creed.
And do you have any for me to look at, to touch?
-Funnily enough, I do.
-It looks like a huge truffle!
Well, yeah. It's the most unlikely looking stuff.
Ooh! I mean, it doesn't...
It doesn't smell, most likely, how you might imagine.
-Can we touch it?
-Do. Take it out.
'So this is it. I'm holding a whale by-product,
'and I'm feeling OK about it -
'well, as OK as you CAN feel, holding whale puke.'
Now, don't reach over and punch me, but it smells a bit sicky.
What's its importance within the perfume structure?
Ambergris's structure is made up of cholesterol,
which is a fat, and this fattiness, or the oiliness,
is what helps hold all the other raw materials
on the skin, so it makes not only it last longer,
but it makes other raw materials last a long time too.
Man has used this raw material and known of it
for at least 3,000 years.
It's part of the magic, and it's part of what is incredible
about the gifts that nature gives us.
So there is whale in perfume,
but it's an excretion, not a body part,
and it's not something I'm angry about.
-I wonder what the consumers think?
-SHE SCREAMS AND LAUGHS
-I wouldn't wear that perfume.
-How does that smell good?
Well, there you go. Somehow it manages it.
-Difficult to believe, eh?
-Yeah! That's really odd.
But it still smells nice, so why not?
There you go. Cool! Thank you very much.
From ambergris to amber nectar.
What I'm discovering is, the more you scratch the surface
of the fish's anatomy, the more everyday products
you find fish in, including one of the nation's favourite - booze.
How many people know that?
Let me just ask you - there's a fish product that they use in beer.
-Do you know what it is?
-A fish product?
-The oil or something? No.
-I wouldn't have a clue.
-Guts or something?
Blood, I suppose, would be horrendous to be drinking.
Er, what else might be in there?
There's this product called isinglass which they use in beers.
It comes from a fish, and somehow it gives beer its golden glow.
I'm meeting some beer drinkers to find out more.
-'Hi, I'm Temi.'
-'The boys call me Kev.'
-'My name's Chris.'
The boys call me Teddy. Our drinking team has a rugby problem.
SONG: "Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba
You come to uni and you want to join the rugby team.
People just expect, sort of, you will be drinking.
THEY SHOUT AND CHANT
We'd start drinking as soon as we'd finished the game, in the changing rooms.
'Hopefully we've had a win, and we're all in good spirits. Start drinking there.'
There isn't much I wouldn't drink.
-I'd drink urine out of a pint, dog food, sick...
So, what if their beer had fish in it?
Would they drink that?
I don't think I've ever thought about what goes into beer,
purely because you just never consider it.
So, do they know what beer's made of?
Must be made of water to some extent. It's liquid.
Er... We don't know, do we?
OK. Do they even know what makes it alcoholic?
I don't know. What does make it alcoholic?
-I've no idea.
-We have no idea.
We drink so much without knowing what's in it. It's quite scary.
A night on the booze hasn't put them off a 4 AM start at Billingsgate.
Don't know what I'm looking at there.
It really is a weird place for beer to begin its journey.
I'm hoping the boys will be as curious as I am.
Is it a head? Is it an eye? Is it blood?
-Temi. Morning, lads. Morning. How we doing?
-It is early. What do you think we're doing
-at this ungodly hour?
-At a fish market,
-something to do with beer... Not a clue.
There's a product in beer called isinglass, apparently.
-From a fish, or...
-Yeah, from a fish.
-All right. Cool.
-What do you think about the fact
that there's something fishy in your beer? Does that put you off?
-Cos you don't know what it is.
CJ Jackson, the director of Billingsgate Seafood Training School,
will enlighten us.
CJ, we know that there's something called isinglass in beer,
-but what is it?
-It actually is a dried swim bladder of a fish.
-What's a swim bladder?
-It's like the buoyancy aid.
It basically keeps round fish upright.
In the 18th century they used to take the swim bladder from a beluga sturgeon.
Today beluga sturgeons are really endangered.
It's also one of the most valuable caviars
that you get.
So what they're using now is a fish called Vietnamese catfish or Pangasius.
Most of it actually is now processed abroad,
and it comes in frozen.
Pangasius is mostly farmed in Vietnam.
It can grow up to three metres long.
As it's hard to find whole ones in the UK,
we're going to see the same principle on a much smaller scale.
'Say hello to Gary the gurnard.'
Look at his eyes!
-He feels so rubbery!
-It's really cool.
-Really weird little fella.
See the little bits here?
You're going to have to get much closer than that, love.
-Will it jump up at me?
-It goes in your pint.
When you open these fish up, you often find the swim bladder in the middle.
I'm going to take you upstairs, show you how to prepare it,
and we're going to see if we can find the swim bladder.
'So, one of Britain's great pastimes -
'getting bladdered - relies on bladders.
'For me, dissecting this little fishy will be more fascinating
'than shocking. Will it be the same for the rugby lads?'
We're going to cut underneath that dorsal spine.
-Don't worry. What you need to do...
-It's so hard.
It's fine. Twist the knife so that it's pointing towards the head.
There you go. Done. How did that feel, Temi?
I'm going to insert the scissors into the back of the head of the fish.
And then just gently push... CRUNCHING
-Not liking that?
-No, not at all. Wasn't nice.
You're going to bend the fish down, and as you bend...
-I don't want it to splat on me.
-It's not going to splat on you.
Then I'm going to put my finger in there and gently ease back...
This is great. The fish bladder is intact. There's still some gas in there.
And having pulled that back, so you can see the swim bladder...
-Bend it. Pull it up.
-Ooh, there you go. I've got...
-Look at the bladder.
-That's it. Perfect.
-Yeah. There's one as well.
-Yeah. There we go.
That's the bit you're going to use.
What I still don't quite understand is how it's used in beer.
Well, I know they dry it, but when it comes to the actual function
and how they actually use it, you'd need to speak to a brewer.
'Going to a brewery can't happen soon enough for Temi.
'I've managed to get beer historian Peter Haydon
'to show us around his specialist brewery in Greenwich, South London.'
-Hi, Peter. How are you?
-Hello. Welcome to Greenwich.
-Here are the guys, Kev and Chris and Temi.
-Nice to meet you.
-Welcome to Meantime. Let's go.
Contain yourselves. We're going into a brewery.
'I get the impression the boys are in heaven.
'Here the four elements of water, malt...'
Mmm, nice smell!
'..hops and yeast combine
'to make beer.'
I've heard two different pronunciations,
-isinglass and I-singlass.
-The word originates from Dutch,
because when we started using it industrially in this country,
in around about 1730s,
the Dutch word "huysen" means sturgeon, and "blas" means bladder.
So huysen blas was a sturgeon bladder,
and the Anglicised version would be isinglass.
That makes sense.
-Whoa! What's that, Peter?
-This is a fish maw.
-Which is a swim bladder.
Which is the raw material from which we make the isinglass.
What this is is pure protein. It's protein called collagen.
It's the same thing as some ladies like to put in their lips
-to make them bigger.
-Don't look at me.
-Don't look at me.
It's a very pure and natural form of protein.
-What does it smell like?
-Um, pretty plain.
-I was hoping I'd get something crazy.
This must have come from a massive fish. The ones we saw earlier were tiny little things.
Yeah. So how does that end up as isinglass?
There are a couple of manufacturers in the UK who produce this
for the brewing industry. They will take the raw material,
process it firstly into a powder, which some people may wish to use,
and there are a number of options. It can be turned into a paste,
or, finally, in the format that we're going to use it...
-So that's like a glue.
-That is gloopy.
Could I drink that, or would I get ill?
You can drink that.
'Blimey, these lads really will drink anything.'
-Oh, that's horrible.
I wouldn't drink that. It looks far too gloopy, and a strange colour,
-and I don't think I'd fancy it.
-Can we see this in action now,
-how it actually works?
-Yeah, by all means.
Isinglass is used in the production of many cask ales,
some stouts and a few lagers.
The yeast content of beer makes it cloudy.
When mixed with isinglass,
the yeast molecules stick to isinglass molecules
and fall to the bottom.
Normally it would take around four days for the yeast to settle
in this keg. Isinglass does it in just six hours,
making the whole process a lot quicker.
So, Kev, if you want to do the honours...
-You can see through that beer.
-It's like glass.
-Can I see you? Yes, I can. Hello!
So if isinglass falls to the bottom of the barrel,
is there any of it left in the drink?
This is not a part of the beer. It's not part of the mix.
As the clumps get bigger, gravity takes over
and pulls everything out of solution
to become a sediment at the bottom of the container.
Studies agree that in the majority of cases,
isinglass is undetectable in the finished pint,
but some bottle-conditioned ales and cask ales,
if served from too near the bottom of the barrel,
may still contain minute amounts.
To find out that something as obscure as a fish bladder
goes into some of our favourite beers
has been a real eye-opener.
It's time to find out if a little fishy
has put these rugby boys off their pint.
I found the whole process today really interesting and fascinating,
but it hasn't put me off at all,
because even a product like the swim bladder, the final product -
fish oils used in lots of food and ingredients,
fish products - there was nothing squeamish about it for me.
When you were cutting open the fish and saw the blood and guts,
but when you see it all dried out and then the liquid,
-it doesn't put me off.
-Temi, you were a bit diffident
-at the beginning of the day.
-I was a bit squeamish.
To be honest with you, it's part of my life, my lifestyle,
-so I won't give it up that easy.
-If you want a beer,
you have to cope with the fact that there's fish bladder in it.
-Good day. Thank you.
Who would have thought a fish bladder could help brighten our booze?
For the next surprising discovery, I'm on the motorway heading for Manchester.
When I think of Manchester, I don't really think of fish.
I think of industrial landscapes, football teams...
..and, of course, music.
Over the decades, Britain has been rocking to the sound of Manchester bands like The Smiths,
Oasis, the Stone Roses, Take That, and even the Bee Gees.
The question is, what are they doing in a film about fish by-products?
I'm about to find out.
Ged Green makes and repairs guitars for rock stars.
His clients include Sinead O'Connor, Badly Drawn Boy,
the Zutons, Gary Barlow, and some others he's not allowed to reveal.
I'm following the fish trail to his workshop in Manchester.
I know nothing, except that there is a fish part,
or some part of the fish, that's utilised
in the manufacturing and creation of guitars.
Is it the inside of the fish or the outside of the fish?
-I'd say the outside.
-So the scales?
-No. They don't have scales.
-So we're going for shellfish.
-Yes, that's right.
-OK. Moving on to the guitar, then...
-Is it the string?
-Is it in here?
-So it's some sort of shell.
-It is, yeah.
-No, these are abalone and pearl.
-Ah, the wonderful abalone!
'Abalone is a type of sea snail
'found in the oceans around South Africa and New Zealand.'
-What is it?
-That is an abalone.
'It's also known as ear shell and mutton fish.
'It might not look like much, but it's considered a delicacy.
'I'd describe it as a kind of giant scallop.'
'Once the meat is removed, the shells can be polished,
'revealing a beautiful array of colours.'
-What are you showing me that for?
-That's what it is.
-I didn't know, did I?
-You certainly didn't.
But it isn't just Ged who does this.
If you're thrashing away on any half-decent guitar
in your mum's garage, chances are it's got some of this stuff in it.
So, we were talking about shells - molluscs, indeed.
-Show me your molluscs.
-Here's one I prepared earlier!
-So, this is an abalone shell.
I think this is possibly New Zealand or Tasmania,
which seems to be the main source.
When it's stuck to a rock or something,
there's little tentacles out the side,
and these are allegedly breathing holes.
-Do they arrive in this form for you?
-No, it doesn't come like that.
It comes in slices. It's bought by the ounce.
This is a fingerboard for a guitar.
'You cut a little pocket for it to sit in.'
-That gets glued in.
-Is this expensive?
-Enough to do that neck
-would be about £40.
-So it is expensive.
These are different tops for guitars. What's interesting here is,
you can see the colour changing. They're all different.
-You get greens, blues...
-Lots of purples going on here.
I've seen guitars going back to the 1500s,
and all the adornment on them was this sort of work.
Even back then, even the early versions of the guitar.
I think it probably goes back to Egyptian times, and pre that.
Will you let me loose on one of your guitars?
Um...no. SHE LAUGHS
Um, you could try and turn this into something.
I like that idea. Yeah.
You can see that basically that would probably come out of that.
Right, let's give it a go. So hold it fairly tight...
'He won't let me near the guitars, but he'll let me have a go
'at milling some shell into a beautiful guitar decoration.'
You know what it smells like? When you're in the dentist.
Yeah. SHE LAUGHS
-A lot more.
-They're tough beasts, these!
We're getting some of it. Agh!
'At this point I should say neither Ged nor I have done this before.'
-There must be a better method.
-Do you think so?
'No wonder he wouldn't let me loose on the guitars.
'So, shells in guitars.'
It's not as weird as fish bladder in beer,
or prawn shell in hairspray.
But none of these things are as weird as what I'm about to see next.
One part of the fish I'm surprised to find there's a use for is the skin,
and I don't really think about fish skin and glamour.
Eel skin, yes. Shark skin, come across before.
But fish skin and fashion? Intrigued!
Now, I like my fish skin crispy. Some of you may like it peeled off.
'But now the likes of Dior, Gucci and Prada
'have taken fish skin off the dinner table
'and put it onto the catwalk.'
For those of us suffering from recession immunity,
designer trainers and handbags made of fish leather
could be one way to make a noisy fashion statement.
In 2003, the main fish-leather supplier in Iceland
sold 15,000 square feet of fish leather.
Last year that jumped up to 106,000 square feet.
I'm visiting the Nordestrond fish factory
in the north of Iceland, to find out how fish...
..turns into leather.
Showing me around is manager Gunni Sune Jonsson.
-Nice to meet you.
-HE GREETS HER IN ICELANDIC
-Thank you. What do you do here?
We are a processing plant,
and we process, for example, some wolffish.
-Wolffish. This is a wolffish.
What do you do with that fish? Do you use the entire fish?
Yeah. More or less, we use the entire fish.
-We use the skin to make leather.
-We make potion from the fish.
-So from the actual meat?
-And from the head and the bones, animal food.
-So, how does this become leather?
-Let me show you, Julia.
We go in there and put some clothes on, and you try yourself.
All right, then. I presume I'm going to have to touch them.
Fish from all over Iceland arrives here on a daily basis.
It's mostly cod and wolffish.
The head and guts are removed before being filleted
by skilled workers who can slice through 5,000 wolffish in a shift.
We're almost ready.
'I'm about to get a master class from the fastest filleter in the fjord.'
Christian can fillet an amazing four fish a minute.
-First of all, you want to hold your knife like that.
If you take the flap over here, and then you just cut...
-Down as close to the bone as possible.
-Yeah. I can feel the bone.
-Turn your knife like that,
and start cutting gently down,
and try to follow the bone. Just watch your fingers.
It's very, very slimy. I can feel the bones.
I think I might have done something wrong here.
-If you just follow that, yeah.
-Take it off.
So there's my fillet, which is a bit of a bloody mess, isn't it?
Look. Let's see yours, Christian.
Just look at that. I mean, that's just perfect.
Beautifully done. I hope I do a better job taking the skin off.
-Just take a fillet.
-Put it skin-down.
-And the tail part in first.
-Tail end that way. Right.
-So just pop it down on there?
-This is a fantastic contraption!
-It's a lot easier than filleting.
-Oh, you put it upside down!
Ugh! I got a bit of fish juice in my mouth then. Ugh!
Oh, dear. They've got to cut that one out.
How's that? Oh, look, we've still got a bit of skin to get off there.
-You must put it aside.
'Of course I'm only imagining that's what Gunni is saying,
'but this could've been a nice handbag.'
Maybe it's the lack of daylight that's sending me potty but I soon get into the groove.
I'm now getting a feel for it, so it's placing the tail down,
and release the wolffish.
'Two to three tons of skins pass through this machine every week
'before being graded for size and quality.'
OK. Is that a good one or a bad one?
For the leather we prefer the big size.
-It has no holes.
-So that goes in this box full of ice?
-This one put here. It's too small.
-Where do those skins go?
They go to cat food.
And where am I taking this now, Gunni?
You are to take this to the tanning company at Saudarkrokur.
Right, off to Saudarkrokur I go.
After just a few hours in the factory, it's dark again.
I'm on my way to Atlantic Leather tannery.
This is one of only a handful of places in the world
that makes fish leather. I'm really curious to find out how such a fragile skin
becomes tough enough to make leather.
'My guide here will be boss Gunnsteinn.'
-There we go. There's a gift for you.
-Oh, thank you.
Some lovely soggy fish skins ready to be turned into leather.
-What do we do first?
-First we go to the fleshing machine.
-Lovely. That's nice.
So the machine is shaving off the rest of the flesh?
Yes. We have knives in there that remove the flesh from the skin.
You're just left with this.
-Now it goes to the drum for tanning.
'Tanning involves putting skins into a drum
'and mixing them with chemicals like chromium.
'Left untreated, the skins will simply decompose.
'But over a week in the drum, the chemicals change the structure of the proteins in the skin...'
It's started to fill. Just a little bit water.
'..creating a durable piece of leather
'from which it's possible to make lots of groovy things.'
Fully tanned wolffish.
Wow! Oh, it feels all spongy now!
-So how long has that been spinning in the drum for?
Is it the same process with fish skin as it is with other hides?
No. The basic difference between fish skins
and other hides is that the fish is cold blood.
The temperature they tolerate before boiling is only 28 degrees.
When we started to develop this,
-we made thousands of gallons of fish soup.
'For me, the capacity to turn fragile fish skin
'into durable leather...'
There's no way you can tear this.
'..is the most surprising aspect of this process.
'But I'm wondering what other surprises Gunnsteinn has in his Willy Wonka-esque tannery.'
-It's ostrich legs.
-Yes. You see?
If you think that's weird, there's also a line of testicle purses
and psychedelic furs.
These are animals found dead in the wild
and collected by the tannery.
So what's spinning around in there?
-Here we have salmon.
-So you can use salmon skin as well?
-Can you use any fish skin?
So you could theoretically make a handbag out of your goldfish
-if you wanted to.
-Look at that!
That is amazing. This is more like snakeskin, isn't it?
-That's even more...
-You see the pockets?
-They are amazing.
Feel how thin it is and how strong it is.
-Yeah. That's brilliantly strong.
'I'm now on a real mission to see it become a fashion item.
'After being dyed...
'..the leather is stretched on a board and dried overnight.
'Then it's softened...'
Now it's just like nice, squidgy soft leather.
'..and prepared for the final finish.'
So you're putting Christmas wrapping paper onto some salmon skins.
Yes. We'll do that. This is one type of the finish we can do.
-We'll take this...
-Whoa, it's like a big pizza.
It's like a big pizza, yeah.
-And then close this for me.
-Off it goes.
-Let's see. Now pull this little bit out.
-Oh, it's hot.
-Yes, it is.
Yes, it's hot.
-Let's see. Peel it back from here?
-There you go.
Look at that!
-Glittery, shiny disco salmon skin!
-It's like a rainbow.
Can you imagine the shoes?
I'm wearing them in my head! I'm going disco dancin'!
'Seeing a salmon turned into a designer handbag
'is about as weird as... well, seeing a salmon turned into a designer handbag.
'I wonder what the great British public will think?'
What do you think that's made out of?
Leather with a snakeskin effect on it.
-Snake or alligator.
-Probably, like, snake.
-I would say crocodile.
-I wouldn't say it's an animal.
-You don't think it's an animal?
-Shall I show you what it is?
Oh, my God! It's a fish!
-Really? Oh, right!
-It's a fish skin.
-Oh, my gosh!
-I never would've thought that!
-Neither would've I.
-Are you surprised?
'And there's no need for the boys to feel left out.
'Not just handbags come from salmon.'
-You can turn it into pretty much everything.
We have shoes like these.
-Look at those!
-You can get in UK.
They're very cool. And this is salmon?
-This is salmon skin.
-So, salmon-skin high tops.
-So, who do you supply?
-We supply all the big names -
Dior, Gucci, Prada, Ferragamo, Donna Karan.
So there's a wide range of customer.
Next time I'm tucking into cod and chips, I might keep the skin.
I'm completely amazed that fish like haddock and salmon,
potentially even your goldfish,
can be turned into designer shoes and bags.
In this film, I wanted to find out how the products that fill our lives
are full of seafood.
Who would have thought that prawn shells make hairspray,
that fish bladders make beer,
and that whale puke can help make perfume?
The main thing I've noticed is that although the consumers I've met
were disgusted at the beginning of the process,
by the time we got to the end product,
they were OK with it.
How about you?
'Next time, I revisit my best moments from the series.'
These are bone-cutters.
That's keeping you alive.
-What have we got in our hand?
-I wouldn't associate a cow with a book.
It was all horrible. I didn't like it. And now I like it. It's nice.
# I got a fish
# In my dish
# And I'm feeling fine
# I got a fish
# In my dish
# And I know it's mine #
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
From the sheep parts hidden in your soap to the fishy ingredient in your favourite pint, though you probably don't know it, the bits of the animals we don't eat for dinner often end up being made into the products we use everyday.
Julia Bradbury goes on an eye-opening journey to find out how. She is joined by the young consumers who use these products, from hair-obsessives to rugby boys, to uncover the surprising animal origins of our most popular items by following the transformation of each leftover body part all the way from the abattoir to the shop floor.
In this episode, Julia discovers how fish and seafood end up inside everything from hairspray and beer to perfume and guitars.