Calcium Derivatives Obtained from Shellfish Waste

22 April 2014, at 1:00am

MEXICO - Researchers at the University of Sonora are looking to use the calcium from waste parts of crustaceans (shrimp, crab, lobster and squid) and convert it into calcium lactate, a salt of high value that can be used by the food industry and pharmacists.

This material can be used as a natural preservative to prevent the growth of fungi and yeasts, improve the texture of certain fruits, and as a dietary calcium supplement due to its intestinal absorption. In addition, it can also be used to prevent tooth decay.

Maribel Plascencia Jatomea, PhD in biotechnology and the developer, said that crustacean wastes consist mostly of proteins, chitin, carotenoid pigments, lipids and calcium.

She noted that the calcium salts such as chlorides, carbonates and acetates, are obtained from the acid demineralization treatments necessary to extract and purify the chitin.

The samples used were from crab shells that were collected by a company located in Navojoa, Sonora.

Currently the project is in the laboratory stage; however, the researchers hope that producers in the region are interested in exploiting this technology and adding value to this type of shellfish waste.

According to the researchers, Sonora is a major producer of shrimp in Mexico. Extreme weather conditions favor the need for innovative strategies to establish biotechnological processes that conserve the shellfish waste in the shortest time possible and extract high-value products.

Organic waste derived from crustacean processing ranges between 30 and 35 per cent weight for shrimp and 75-80 per cent for crab.

This amount represents a potentially dangerous environmental pollutant, due to its high organic load, if not handled properly.