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SHRIMP HEAD: From Waste to Food

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By Milthon Lujan

“Don’t waste your food,” that’s what our parents often say. Unfortunately, some parts of the food we eat eventually go to waste, such as cow’s bone, fishtail, or crab’s shell.

What if these throwaways are turned into food?

This is what the scientists at the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI) did with the shrimp’s head!

In a shrimp processing plant, the shrimp’s head is typically discarded along with its shells and tails. The waste makes up 50% of the raw material, which means almost half of the money spent goes down the drain already. Improper disposal of these wastes may cause harm to the environment due to their nutrient-rich properties.

By turning shrimp heads into powder, food processing manufacturers will not only cut down their wastage but, more importantly, earn profit from otherwise discarded materials!

According to the study of Rosa Bassig, Senior Science Research Specialist of the Fisheries Postharvest Research and Development Division of NFRDI, about 200 g of powder is produced per one kilogram of fresh shrimp heads. Not bad for business, considering that what would have been just a waste was converted into something valuable. The powder can be used as shrimp flavor seasoning, seafood broths, or soups, among others. Moreover, it has a storage life of up to six months when stored at 28-30°C based on a study published in The Philippine Journal of Fisheries.

This exciting fisheries technological development contributes to the world’s battle against food and processing wastage while providing income and livelihood for fish processing industries.

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Reference (open access):
Rosa A. Bassig, Adoracion V. Obinque, Vivian T. Nebres, Virginia H. Delos Santos, Deserie M. Peralta, Ariel Joshua J. Madrid. 2021. Utilization of Shrimp Head Wastes into Powder Form as Raw Material for Value-Added Products. The Philippine Journal of Fisheries, https://doi.org/10.31398/tpjf/28.2.2020A0010 

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