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MSU coastal research lab supports seafood industry
BILOXI -- The team of professionals at Mississippi State University's Coastal Research and Extension Center provides services to all parts of the state's seafood industry.
Extension professor of marine resources Dave Burrage, with assistance from fisheries technologist Peter Nguyen, provides educational programs on regulations, new types of equipment and other industry-related issues for commercial fishermen on the Mississippi Coast.
Other MSU Coastal Research and Extension Center personnel who work with the state's seafood industry include Ben Posadas, an economist, and Jeff Dillon, who is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the university's Seafood Processing Lab in Pascagoula.
“The Seafood Processing Lab supports Mississippi's seafood industry through research with underused shellfish and finfish species and with by-products from seafood processing,” Burrage said. “The lab is also available to processors for testing new equipment or processing techniques.”
Raw oysters on the half shell are a popular seafood item for many Americans, but there is a danger that raw oysters contain the bacterium Vibrio vulnificus. The bacterium can cause individuals with liver disease, diabetes or weak immune systems to become severely ill or even die. Research is under way at the seafood lab on treatments that help eliminate the danger while keeping oysters fresh.
“Oyster processors, especially small processors, will benefit from low-cost, effective ways to provide consumers a safer oyster product,” Posadas said. “One of the treatments we're testing at the lab is a rapid-chill depuration system to reduce the amount of the bacterium while maintaining the quality of the oysters. It simulates what happens in nature during the winter months when the bacteria rates drop as water temperatures cool.”
The lab staff also is testing state-of-the-art irradiation equipment for use in reducing bacteria levels in raw oysters.
“At the lab, we focus on ways to support the seafood industry through work with cost-effective processing systems that make seafood products more readily acceptable to consumers,” Dillon said.