Seafood products are perceived as healthy foods. However, several species of seafood are still not fully utilized for different reasons or can be valued outside the original locale, if issues with the short shelf-life and/or the preparation/presentation form are overcome, e.g., gray triggerfish, Balistes capriscus
. Consumed mostly fresh, its flesh is of excellent quality. We studied the effect of different types of packaging (in air (AIR), vacuum (VP), and modified atmosphere (MAP)) on physicochemical (color and texture, pH, and total volatile basic nitrogen), microbiological (total viable count, psychrotrophic, sulphide-reducing bacteria, and acid-lactic bacteria), and sensory qualities, and shelf-life of gray triggerfish fillets stored at refrigeration temperature for 15 days. The samples were analyzed on days 0 (fresh fish), 5, 10 (8 and 12 for sensory analysis), and 15 after filleting and packaging. During the trial, fillets became lighter (increased L*) and yellower (b* >> 0) with time of storage. Distinct patterns were observed for pH among treatments. Unexpectedly, the increasing trend observed in the texturometer-derived hardness of VP and MAP fillets, contrasted with the sensory assessment, wherein panelists perceived a clear softening of fillets. VP delayed and MAP inhibited the increase in TVB-N contents of fillets compared to fillets packed in AIR. Total viable count and psychrothropic bacteria of fillets in AIR exceeded the conventional limit of 7 log(CFU/g) on day 10, while in fillets packed in VP and MAP, their abundance remained below that limit during the trial. The organoleptic attributes of fillets perceived by a sensory panel changed significantly in all treatments during the storage trial. Willingness to consume the fillets decreased constantly in AIR and MAP, but not in VP fillets. Considering primarily sensory, but also biochemical and microbiological parameters, namely panelists’ rejection, total volatile basic nitrogen content, and total viable count and psychrotrophic bacteria abundance, the shelf-life of fillets packed in air was eight days. Vacuum and modified atmosphere packaging extended the shelf-life to 15 and 12 days, and thus can add value to this product. Future research regarding the VP and MAP of gray triggerfish fillets could involve the optimization of mixtures of gases use and/or the application of combined processes.
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