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Decomposition of Trimethylamine Oxide By Excessive Use of Sulfite in Spiny Lobster

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Spiny lobster tails stored on ice are, in majority, treated with an excessive amount of sulfite in an attempt to prevent the occurrence of "black spots". Prior to delivery to the processing plant, lobster tails are immersed in a sulfite solution overnight, after which they are stored either on ice or in brine. The amount of residual sulfur dioxide (So2) in the lobster muscle is drastically reduced to under 100 ppm which is the maximum limit permitted by most importing countries. It was clarified that a treatment with sodium metabisulfite provokes the formation of dimethylamine (DmA) and formaldehyde (FA) from trimethylamine oxide (TMAO). The FA contents measured in the muscle were proportional to the So2 contents. However, the storage of tails on ice or in brine had the effect of reducing the rate by which these components are formed.


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Affiliations: 1: Laboratório de Ciências do Mar - LABOMAR and Departamento de Engenharia de Pesca da UFC, C.P. 1072, Fortaleza, Ceara, 60.165-082, Brazil; 2: College of Agriculture and Veterinay Medicine, Nihon University, Shimouma, Setagaya, Tokyo 154, Japan


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