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By Leonard G. Obaldo, Ph.D.

 

As the research scientist primarily involved in Aquatic Food research and development at Oceanic Institute, my work employs the principles of food science to generate knowledge that will help those in the aquaculture industry—feed manufacturers, aquaculture farmers, seafood processors—tailor feed inputs, production systems, and processing methods to meet consumer demands for quality seafood, together with increased convenience, availability, and safety.

Efforts have included creating an OI product innovation laboratory to provide a nucleus for examining seafood quality such as color, flavor and texture resulting from the impact of new feed formulations and environmentally friendly culture systems.

The lab is composed of five major sections. The first is the primary processing section for washing, cleaning, gutting, filleting, and peeling or skinning. The secondary processing section is for grinding, smoking, retorting, and dehydration. The third is a preservation and storage section consisting of an ice machine, liquid nitrogen for IQF processing, large capacity refrigerators, and freezing units for holding and storing samples. The fourth area, a food preparation section, has an island that features a stove, storage, and ample counter space. The fifth area is our sensory evaluation room for product quality testing using both consumer and trained panels. The lab can also be used for collaborative work with industry and other institutions to help meet their needs, including the development and testing of new value-added seafood products.

Current research efforts include the determination of processing yield, shelf life, nutritional composition and sensory quality of market size shrimp, moi, and kahala reared under environmentally friendly systems and fed formulated diets containing ingredients made from by-products of Hawai‘i’s agriculture industry and Alaska’s seafood industry.

Research is also being conducted to enhance omega-3 while reducing cholesterol in market-size shrimp, and evaluation of the impact of this effort on taste and texture.

Overall, the aquatic food research at OI provides a unique capability to explore how we can best make an impact in the U.S. aquaculture industry. One of the major challenges will involve the creation of designer low-cost diets that could make fish and shrimp tastier and healthier for human consumption.

 

 

 

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