IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS study finds better way to keep shrimp juicy, tasty

Topic(s): Aquaculture, Economics, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, Research

Shrimp and cans of crab meat on display for sale at a seafood store.  Fishing, seafood industry, food.  UF/IFAS Photo: Tyler Jones.

Please see caption below

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When you eat a shrimp, you probably want it to be juicy. That’s why University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are trying to find alternatives to phosphates to lock in that texture and savory flavor.

Normally, phosphate or table salt is used to retain moisture in meat and seafood, said Paul Sarnoski, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of food science and human nutrition. But adding salt to the food puts more salt in a person’s diet, and that’s unhealthy, Sarnoski said. Additionally, phosphates are relatively expensive, he said.

In a study recently published in the Journal of Food Science, Sarnoski and his UF/IFAS colleagues found that phosphate alternatives such as polysaccharides – a type of carbohydrate often used as a food additive – can help retain water in shrimp. UF/IFAS scientists tested the shrimp using phosphates and polysaccharides. They boiled, froze and dried the crustaceans to see how much water the shrimp lost.

For this study, UF/IFAS researchers tested Atlantic white shrimp, which, in addition to being tasty and nutritious, are a vital component to the United States economy. In 2012, 118 million pounds of the shrimp were harvested, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Additionally, shrimp accounts for almost 30 percent of all the seafood the U.S. imports, according to NOAA.

Atlantic white shrimp are often cited as being popular because of their sweet taste, according to a 2006 study led by the University of Georgia. They’re also a good source of protein, niacin, iron, phosphorus, zinc and a very good source of vitamin B12.

“The study showed there are some polysaccharides that will likely not change the way the shrimp tastes, feels or looks to the consumer,” Sarnoski said. Researchers discovered this through taste tests by consumer panelists at the UF Center for Smell and Taste.

Polysaccharides are usually inexpensive, and in the long run, cost less for the food processor, restaurant operator – and theoretically, the consumer — than phosphates.

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Caption: By adding polysaccharides to shrimp keeps them juicy and lowers the salt content, two advantages over using the traditional method of phosphates, according to a new UF/IFAS study led by food science assistant professor Paul Sarnoski.

Credit: Tyler Jones, UF/IFAS photography, file.

By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

Source: Paul Sarnoski, 352-294-3732, psarnoski@ufl.edu

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