Location: Warmwater Aquaculture Research Unit2011 Annual Report
1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
Research will address methods to determine the presence of pathogens in catfish/catfish products and to maximize elimination methods. Detection techniques will be developed to aid in processing and packaging operations, which should further enhance product safety. Specifically the objectives are: Optimize safety of aquaculture products through innovative processes for reducing microbiological, physical and chemical hazards in seafood/aquaculture products. Determine the mechanisms influencing microbial survival of selected pathogens in seafood/aquaculture products. Optimize the market value of seafood/aquaculture products through enhanced food safety and quality.
1b. Approach (from AD-416)
Develop and evaluate methods for detection and reduction of microorganisms, toxins and contaminants that could affect the safety of seafood/aquaculture products.
3. Progress Report
A series of experiments were conducted in support of the objectives related to optimizing safety and quality of aquaculture and seafood products, determining mechanisms influencing survival of pathogens in aquaculture and seafood products, and developing methods for identifying pathogens and factors affecting pathogen virulence. Research related to control of pathogens in food products, in particular Listeria (L.) monocytogenes, is focused on developing strategies for reducing pathogens in catfish, seafood, and other meat products. New generally regarded as safe (GRAS) antimicrobials for control of bacterial pathogens in aquaculture products are being developed and tested for their effectiveness. Effects of irradiation on shelf-life extension and pathogen reduction were evaluated for several foods, including catfish. A rapid, inexpensive antibody-based assay is being developed for detecting botulism neurotoxin in catfish. This assay will be useful for screening purposes. A luciferase reporter gene has been inserted into Salmonella enterica and Escherichia (E.) coli and selectively produces light in viable cells. This technique allows real-time detection of the bacteria at low levels and allows monitoring of bacterial progression under different environmental and chemical conditions. Training of catfish producers and processors was conducted to reduce potential biosecurity and food safety risks. Use of whey protein as a coating to prevent oxidation of catfish fillets was shown to be effective. These research projects will play a role in assuring safe, high-quality food products to consumers and will be important to maintaining viable aquaculture and seafood industries in the U.S. The ADODR has monitored progress on this project through phone calls, e-mail, and site visits with the Principal Investigator and other scientists involved in the project.