The objective of this research project is to stimulate consumer demand for U.S. farm raised catfish products and increase the profitability of the Catfish Industry through improved product quality.
By improving methodology for detecting the presence of off-flavor compounds in farm raised catfish, fewer off-flavor fish should reach the consumer, resulting in an increased demand and market share for U.S. farm raised catfish. To improve quality, this project will assess and provide feedback to individual catfish processing plants on the proportion of fish with off-flavors, passing through their plant and will work directly with these plants to control off-flavor issues at the plant. Additionally, current methods for mitigating off-flavors are primarily pre-harvest approaches, and can be costly, time consuming and increase fish stress. Post-harvest research is proposed to treat mildly off-flavored fillets with weak acids and marinades to mitigate the off-flavor compounds and expand the catfish line of products. Furthermore, methods for improving shelf life of fresh and frozen fillets will be examined using UV-C light, and vacuum packaging. Research proposed here will enable the existing U.S. Catfish Industry to better control quality, provide new co-products and improve shelf life.
An analysis of fish samples as part of a Materials Transfer Agreement (MTA) with the Conservation Fund, an environmental non-profit organization, investigating the effect of swim speed on purging was completed by ARS scientists in New Orleans, Louisiana. A series of samples with Exciton Clean, LLC measuring 2 methylisoborenol and geosmin removal by a water purification process was completed. Exciton Clean, LLC is a water purification company based in Verona, WI. The system was able to decrease the two main chemicals responsible for off-flavors in fish, 2-methylisoborenol and geosmin, to levels from 60 ng/L to barely detectable amounts in an 18 m3 static water tank. The system reduced purging time in half for off-flavor mitigation in salmon. A new analytical extraction system (SPME Arrow) has been implemented for the use of measuring off-flavors in water. The system is more robust with larger adsorbent capacity and should result in lower limits of detection of off-flavor compounds. A comparison study is underway with the current established methods to determine actual capabilities. A sensory scientist has been hired at ARS New Orleans, Louisiana to oversee the sensory lab. A post doctorial researcher has been hired at ARS New Orleans, Louisiana to help with the analytical research and ultra-violate-C storage studies for fresh fish. A manuscript has been submitted to Aquaculture Engineering on the Swim speed study conducted with the Conservation Fund. The information on the Excition Clean system will be presented by ARS scientists in New Orleans, Louisiana at the Aquaculture America Meeting August 11-14, San Antonio, Texas. A project is underway to develop a method for inducing geosmin in fish by application of the chemical in fish feed. A reproducible method of getting geosmin into fish muscle does not currently exist. This is being done in collaboration with Reverence Holdings LLC. Currently, water samples have been collected by ARS scientists in New Orleans, Louisiana and analysis is in progress. When completed, a reproducible method for geosmin introduction into fish will be obtained. This will allow for better training of panelists in sensory trials and development of more reliable lexicons for training of flavor checkers in the aquaculture industry.
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