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Production and Post-Harvest Processing and Packaging Effects on the Quality and Safety of Freshwater Prawn Macrobrachium Rosenbergii Grown by Virginia Producers


This research investigation seeks to determine whether different production conditions and post-harvest processing and packaging methods influence the nutrition, safety, and quality characteristics of freshwater prawn Macrobrachium rosenbergii grown by Virginia producers. <P> The objectives of the study are: 1) Assess and characterize the chemical, biochemical, microbiological, and quality attributes of freshwater prawn produced in different regions within Virginia. 2) Determine the effects of different processing methods on nutritional, safety and quality characteristics of freshwater prawn. 3) Determine the effectiveness of novel packaging technology for shelf-life extension of freshwater prawn. <P> Linkages between production methods and conditions and subsequent food quality of aquaculture products are not well known. This project is expected to yield information regarding the influence of production conditions on food quality parameters of freshwater prawn grown in Virginia. Results of this project will be disseminated in scientific and industry publications and meetings and in collaboration with the Virginia Cooperative Extension.

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Non-Technical Summary: <BR>Income diversification is essential for small-farm profitability and aquaculture is a potential alternative. Freshwater prawn has been promoted as a seasonal aquaculture crop in Virginia. Linkages between conditions that exist during production and resulting quality attributes of aquacultured prawn are poorly known. For example, flavor is determined by small molecular weight compounds, and marine shrimp derive their distinctive flavor from small molecular weight compounds that whose synthesis is induced by salinity stress. The flavor of freshwater prawn has been described as subtle and can be attributed to lack of salinity stress; freshwater prawn grown in low salinity water have been described as having a shrimp-like flavor. Water harness (calcium and magnesium content) and alkalinity (carbonate content) are two important water quality parameters for freshwater aquaculture production. The present study seeks to address whether water quality factors, specifically hardness and alkalinity, during production influence post-harvest quality attributes of freshwater prawn and to characterize post-harvest processing conditions that can improve safety and extend shelf-life. <P> Approach: <BR> Objective 1 Prawn will be obtained from Virginia commercial producers and from VSU's Randolph Farm. Water quality characteristics (water hardness and alkalinity) will be measured. Water, sediment samples will be assayed to characterize chemical (minerals and metals) composition. Microbiological assessments of prawn tissue samples will be made. Physical and chemical properties as well as texture quality of prawn and prawn tail muscle will be quantified, including whole prawn length and weight and tail muscle proximate composition, K-value (measure of freshness), color, texture, and thermal properties. Microstructural and sensory analyses also will be conducted. Objective 2 Prawn samples will be obtained from ponds with low and high water hardness and alkalinity. Samples will be subjected to two different processing methods, blanching and freezing, and the effect of processing on the nutritional, safety and quality characteristics of processed prawn will be evaluated. Microbiological and food quality assessments will be made similar to Year 1. Objective 3 Prawn samples from Objective 2 will be evaluated to determine the effect of different packaging methods on nutritional, microbiological and quality characteristics of blanched and frozen prawn. Modified atmosphere packaging will be used in our study, and optimal gas compositions will be identified for preserving fresh and blanched prawns.

Xu, YiXang
Virginia State University
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