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ARS Home » Southeast Area » New Orleans, Louisiana » Southern Regional Research Center » Food Processing and Sensory Quality Research » Research » Research Project #428927

Research Project: Postharvest Sensory, Processing and Packaging of Catfish

Location: Food Processing and Sensory Quality Research

Project Number: 6054-44000-078-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Jun 11, 2015
End Date: Jun 10, 2020

Objective:
The overall goal of this research project is to stimulate consumer demand for catfish products and increase the profitability of the U.S. catfish industry through improved product quality. Objective 1: Generate new processed catfish definitions for uniform sensory quality and grading standards and enable economical, accurate and real-time commercial methods to monitor sensory attributes of processed catfish. Sub-Objective 1.A: Develop a set of guidelines for the evaluation of off-flavors in farm raised catfish and provide them to the industry through a set of workshops. Sub-Objective 1.B: Develop instrumental methods for the economic rapid determination of color and off-flavors in farm raised catfish for use by the industry. Objective 2: Enable new commercial value added postharvest processes and innovative packaging technologies that maintain/improve the sensory qualities and shelf life of processed catfish.

Approach:
Consumption of U.S. grown catfish has dwindled from its maximum in 2003 to almost half that in 2014. There are multiple reasons for decreased catfish consumption including reduced production, imports and variability in product quality. The most pressing quality problem, as identified by the catfish industry, is the incidence and intensity of off flavors. Consumer demands in the dinner protein market are high quality products, free of defects. This project will develop a set of guidelines for the evaluation of off-flavors in farm raised catfish and provide them to the industry through a set of workshops. A survey of existing flavor checkers at catfish processing plants will be conducted to determine the best practices currently used in the industry. Individual processors will be surveyed with regard to their flavor checking practices. Different practices will be subjected to laboratory testing to determine the most effective protocols. Once the best practices have been determined, a series of workshops will be provided to the industry to standardize the analysis of off-flavors. Instrumental methods will be developed for an economical and rapid determination of color and off-flavors in farm raised catfish for use by the industry. In line instrumentation for color evaluation is widely used for quality assessment in a variety of agricultural products and this technology will be adapted for use by the catfish aquaculture industry. Initial experiments will focus on documenting the degree of color variation and identifying strategies to minimize variation. Currently the analysis of off-flavors for individual fillet does not appear to be economically feasible even if it were technological possible. However, a detailed evaluation of test samples may suggest procedures that could effectively assist existing flavor checker protocols to reduce variation in off-flavor. The adoption of improved analtyical methods by the industry will depend upon need, cost and effectivness. Efforts will be made to demonstrate the benefits of improved methods. This project will develop new and improved processes, products and packaging systems that will enrich the sensory qualities and improve the shelf life of processed catfish. Marination, the process of soaking foods in seasoned, often acidic, liquids before cooking and may offer an opportunity for modulating the off-flavors found in some farm raised catfish fillets. In addition, frozen precooked catfish products will be developed that are designed to be heated in a microwave or conventional oven before serving. Studies will be conducted on precooking methods, packaging, and product quiaty duign storage. Efforts will be made to deveolop new products and extend product lines of frozen catfish products using processing equipment commonly found in the industry.