“Virginia is poised to be an excellent player in the aquaculture industry with its superb access to markets in Washington, D.C., and New York and its attractive labor pool.”
Due to demand and population growth projections in the United States, the forecasted domestic seafood gap in 2025 is 2 million to 4 million tons, a national resource deficit second only to oil.
Assistant Professor of Food Science and Technology David Kuhn is working to capitalize on this demand to strengthen the aquaculture industry in the commonwealth, and his efforts will have far-reaching impacts beyond Virginia’s borders.
“In terms of a global view, fish is a good way to get protein into people’s diets,” said Kuhn.
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BLACKSBURG, Va., Nov. 17, 2015 – As the freshwater shrimp in his ponds continued to grow and multiply, Charles Carter knew he had a good product to sell.
In his second year of production, Carter wanted to create product buzz to sell a portion of his production to local consumers. As a member of the Virginia Aquafarmers Network, Carter was already selling product wholesale, but also wanted to market retail.
Carter, whose family has owned the Shirley Plantation in Charles City, Virginia, for 11 generations, knew just where to look for assistance — Virginia Cooperative Extension.
He had already relied heavily on the expertise of Brian Nerrie, a seafood Extension specialist from Virginia State University, to help get his shrimp operation off the ground. Carter used the many online resources about starting a fresh water shrimp operation and asked Nerrie countless questions along the way about everything from feeding to harvesting. Now he needed to expand his market.
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Crabmeat is measured into one-pound cans for pasteurization. ©Jenn Armstrong/VASG
By Julia Robins, Virginia Sea Grant Staff Writer
Since its inception, Virginia Sea Grant (VASG) Extension at Virginia Tech (VT) has been helping Virginia seafood companies ensure they are producing safe products. Bob Lane, VT Seafood Engineer and Extension Specialist affiliated with VASG, regularly validates local seafood companies’ pasteurization processes.
During a visit to a local seafood company this fall, Lane began by placing temperature sensors, called thermocouples, into empty cans. He then added a pound of refrigerated crabmeat to each and sealed them. These cans are distributed to ensure accurate readings of the heating and cooling profiles of the crabmeat during pasteurization. Lane then connects the thermocouples to a data logger, to create a permanent record of the time and temperatures achieved during the pasteurization process.
As the temperature increases during pasteurization, the meat gets hot enough to destroy harmful microorganisms that can cause consumer illness. Eliminating bacteria also increases the refrigerated shelf life of the crabmeat, making it safer to ship and sell crabmeat at retail locations.
That’s “the basic premise,” says Lane. “To extend shelf life and to protect the consumer from harmful types of bacteria.”
Lane’s role is to review the pasteurization process, make sure the necessary equipment is working properly, calculate the heat distribution, verify that the product has achieved a safe extended shelf life and provide documented evidence to the seafood processor that its process meets the requirements.
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