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Decomposition of trimethylamine oxide related to the use of sulfites in shrimp

Keywords: sulfites in shrimp , trimethylamine oxide , dimethylamine , formaldehyde

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Currently, sulfites are employed on board to inhibit melanosis (blackspot) on crustaceans. However, when used in excess this chemical compound not only can cause adverse reactions in SO2-sensitive individuals, but also favors the decomposition of trimethylamine oxide (TMAO) into dimethylamine (DMA) and formaldehyde (FA), thus compromising the quality of the product, which can be observed mainly through the texture change of the meat after cooking. This study was conducted to verify the increase of the contents of DMA and FA by the excessive use of sodium metabisulfite in white shrimp (Penaeus schmitti). For laboratory trials, shrimp were beheaded, washed and immersed in a 2% sodium metabisulfite solution for 10 minutes. Specimens were stored either on ice and maintained for 48 hours in refrigeration, or stored in a freezer for 48 hours. Samples were collected at intervals of 0, 24 and 48 hours, and analyzed for residual SO2, TMAO, TMA, DMA and FA. The immersion of shrimp in a 2% sodium metabisulfite for 10 minutes favored the decomposition of TMAO which greatly increased the contents of DMA and FA. The FA and DMA measured in fresh shrimp was low. Moreover, the storage of shrimp tails on ice resulted in a significant reduction of the TMA, DMA, FA and residual SO2 contents compared to the specimens under frozen storage.


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