Shellfish may internalize dangerous pathogens during filter feeding. Traditional methods of depuration have been found ineffective against certain pathogens. The objective was to explore high hydrostatic pressure (HHP) as an alternative to the traditional depuration process. The effect of HHP on the survival of Vibrio parahaemolyticus in live clams (Mercanaria mercanaria) and the impact of HHP on physical characteristics of clam meat were investigated. Clams were inoculated with up to 7 log CFU/g of a cocktail of V. parahaemolyticus strains via filter feeding. Clams were processed at pressures ranging from 250 to 552 MPa for hold times ranging between 2 and 6 min. Processing conditions of 450 MPa for 4 min and 350 MPa for 6 min reduced the initial concentration of V. parahaemolyticus to a nondetectable level (<101 CFU/g), achieving >5 log reductions. The volume of clam meat (processed in shell) increased with negligible change in mass after exposure to pressure at 552 MPa for 3 min, while the drip loss was reduced. Clams processed at 552 MPa were softer compared to those processed at 276 MPa. However, all HHP processed clams were found to be harder compared to unprocessed. The lightness (L*) of the meat increased although the redness (a*) decreased with increasing pressure. Although high pressure-processed clams may pose a significantly lower risk from V. parahaemolyticus, the effect of the accompanied physical changes on the consumer's decision to purchase HHP clams remains to be determined.
Practical Application: Shellfish may contain dangerous foodborne pathogens. Traditional methods of removing those pathogen have been found ineffective against certain pathogens. The objective of this research was to determine the effect of high hydrostatic pressure on V. parahaemolyticus in clams. Processing conditions of 450 MPa for 4 min and 350 MPa for 6 min reduced the initial concentration of V. parahaemolyticus to a nondetectable level, achieving >5 log reductions.