<OL> <LI> Utilize x-ray processing to improve the quality, shelf-life and safety of value added and ready to eat food products. <LI>Identify and evaluate practical methods of post harvest treatment of oysters to eliminate the risk of Vibrio illness. <LI>Evaluate the potential use of underutilized fish and shellfish species for new products and value added seafood products.
Non-Technical Summary: A multi-team, multi-disciplinary approach will be used to enhance knowledge in seafood safety and quality. Seafood Quality and Safety continues to present new challenges to industry and regulatory agencies. Food spoilage and foodborne infection related to seafood products are a major source of illness, loss of productivity, and impact the environment. This project examines the effectiveness of various processes on pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms and chemical changes that relate to these processes. Post harvest treatment of raw oysters to eliminate the risk of vibrio illnesses, will have a positive impact on oyster consumption. Return of consumer confidence in half shell oysters has increased the demand, the market value and subsequently the harvest of half shell oysters. Already oyster consumption is on the increase: U.S. per capita oyster consumption has increased from 0.25 lb in 2000 and continues as consumers find new ways to cook and consume this commodity. Commercialization of underutilized Gulf of Mexico fish species will provide consumers with a healthier muscle food product. Fish mince can be substituted for ground beef or pork in a variety of recipes. <P> Approach: 1) Prepackaged and raw food products will be processed using up to 5 kGy x-ray processing. Microbial quality will be monitored over time to determine reduction of pathogens and increased shelf life. 2) Post harvest treatment, PHT, methods to be evaluated include irradiation, freezing, and other innovative technologies. 3) Fish, shellfish, and by-products from shellfish harvesting will be evaluated as to nutritional and microbiological quality to determine feasibility for use in surimi, minced products, appetizers, and soup bases.