Processing

American and European lobsters are primarily sold live, with some sold frozen, a few sold fresh, and a very small number canned (19), but the production of lobster product frozen with or without brine has been increasing dramatically (18,53). The quality of frozen lobster has been reported to be good for at least 9 months of frozen storage (54). Spiny lobsters are often marketed in the United States as frozen raw tails and in Asia as live or fresh whole cooked spiny lobster (13,55). In the United Kingdom, Norway lobsters are almost always sold as frozen peeled tails, whereas in the rest of Europe, they are sold whole (live, freshly cooked, or cooked and frozen) (44).

Because live lobster is normally cooked well immediately before it is eaten, it does not cause any health problems. Canned lobster products that are thermally processed inside hermetically sealed containers are also safe. However, any lobster products that are not normally cooked before being consumed present a potential health problem because of postprocessing contamination with bacteria, particularly Listeria monocytogenes (56,57). Consequently, the Canadian Inspection Services Branch has published Good Manufacturing Practices (58) for frozen ready-to-eat lobster products, which will help ensure the acceptability of such products (59). Anyone who produces any ready-to-eat lobster products should follow these or similar good manufacturing practices. References 50 through 52 provide more detailed information concerning the safety of seafood and utilization of HACCP principles.

International codes of practice regarding the handling of lobsters at sea and onshore have been published (60), as have international standards for quick-frozen lobster (61) and general processing procedures for Norway lobster (62).

More than 12 alternatives to live lobster (such as fillets, medallions, tails, cocktail claws, whole frozen, and whole cooked) are offered by producers in Maine and Canada (19). In addition, lobster pate or bites have been developed from extracted lobster meat (63), lobster Mornay is being commercially produced in Australia (64), and a lobster bisque has been developed in Denmark (65).

Juvenile and adult Palinuridae exhibit little aggression or cannibalism even under high densities. However, at the early stage (phyllosoma), they are difficult to rear. Scientists in New Zealand have recently succeeded in rearing one species of rock lobster (J. edwardsii) to the puerile stage in the laboratory (66), thus increasing hopes of aquaculture of the species. Western rock lobsters have been reared from puerile to commercial size, and optimum conditions for growth have been established (67). The pond culture of juvenile rock lobsters caught in the wild has been reported (68).

Homarid lobster larvae are easily cultured, have a short development time, and can be hatched at any time of the year. They are, however, cannibalistic and must be segregated, thereby raising the costs. Nutrition is also a major problem. Lobsters normally eat a varied diet of seaweed, small mollusks, and crustacea. Such a diet is too expensive and impractical to provide on a commercial basis (69). For techniques of homarid lobster culture, see References 12, 70, 71, and 72.

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