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Indian scientist turns prawn waste into super food

INDIA - Scientist, Renuka Karuppuswamy, was driven to resolve the problem of food waste by the stench of the huge piles of rotting seafood waste on the outskirts of her home town in Tamil Nadu.

That repulsive childhood memory has now given rise to a new and commercially viable technique, developed by Karuppuswamy, for extracting a super food supplement out of the waste - rendering it useful and valuable, says a report on Sify News. The product is a powerful antioxidant which protects cells in the human body – from prawn shells.

Now Renuka Karuppuswamy, currently a PhD student at the University of New South Wales in Sydney,promises her research will turn millions of tonnes of seafood waste around the world into a useful commercial health supplement.

The antioxidant Renuka has extracted is called astaxanthin, which gives cooked prawns their red colour. However, almost all the astaxanthin is contained in the shells and heads which are thrown away.

Most commercial astaxanthin is currently produced naturally from algae or synthetically by a chemical process. But, the 27-year-old UNSW Food Science and Technology student has developed an extraction technique for waste prawn heads and shells which is efficient enough to make commercial-scale extraction viable.

Astaxanthin sells at about $200 a gram and as well as being used as a human health supplement, it is useful in salmon and egg production.

View the Sify News story by clicking here.