Quality-Based Thermokinetic Optimization of Ready-to-Eat Whole Edible Crab (Cancer pagurus) Pasteurisation Treatments
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Traditional processing practices used in the manufacture of ready-to-eat edible crab products include a double-heat treatment involving an initial cooking step followed by washing and packaging and finally, a second heat pasteurisation. The latter, pasteurisation step, results in the most severe impact on product quality. The main objective of this research was to optimise this pasteurisation step using quality index degradation kinetic approach. Preliminary work involved the characterisation of temperature rise in the crab cold-spot during pasteurisation. Equivalent treatments (F90°C10°C = 10 min) were defined in order to assess the impact of pasteurisation temperature on different crab quality indexes in both crab meat types, white and brown. Colour degradation of crab white meat was defined as the critical quality parameter to be monitored during thermal pasteurisation. The effect of time and temperature on the kinetics of white meat colour change (ΔE*) were characterised and fitted to an exponential equation. Following this, an industry focus group was used to define white meat colour change vs product quality and defined ‘good’ (ΔE* ≤ 7), ‘acceptable’ (7 < ΔE* < 9) and ‘unacceptable’ (ΔE* ≥ 9) quality. Finally, using the developed equations, optimal pasteurisation conditions were defined and validated. To produce ‘good’ quality crab, optimal temperatures ranged between 96 and 100 °C while temperatures between 104 and 108 °C produced ‘acceptable’ quality in crabs of 400 and 800 g, respectively. Overall, the results show that the equations obtained could be used in a decision support system (DSS) to define heat pasteurisation conditions to optimise the quality of ready-to-eat edible crab.
KeywordsProduct quality Thermal processing Pasteurisation Colour kinetics Edible crab
The authors wish to acknowledge the financial support from the Food Institutional Research Measure (FIRM) funded by the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (project no. R13885) and to the European Regional Development Fund, MINECO-CICYT (AGL2015-69565-P) and the Department of Innovation Research and University of the Aragon Government and European Social Fund (ESF).
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