Graduate student experiments with extending shelf life and safety of cooked crab

Katherine Rubio holds up test samples in lab. (Photo by Kayla Desroches / KMXT)

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

A graduate student is looking at how to extend the shelf life of cooked Dungeness crab and make it safer to eat. She’s working as a summer intern with Alaska Sea Grant and the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute and using their labs to conduct her experiments. They’re in the second year of this type of partnership.


Graduate student Katherine Rubio opens the fridge where she holds her samples in the lab.

“I have nine treatments.”

Rubio is testing the antibacterial properties of chitosan, which comes from shrimp and crab shells.

“We wash our hands with water and soap right? Chitosan is like the water. We use the chitosan water and acid to reduce the bacteria we have in products like meat, beef, and seafood products.”

In this case, Rubio is experimenting with the effect of coating Dungeness Crab with the solution.

Rubio, who’s originally from Ecuador, is a student at Louisiana State University.

Seafood technology specialist Chris Sannito with Sea Grant says their job is to facilitate studies like Rubio’s.

“And hopefully we’ll one day not be throwing away crab shells and chitosan-type products when we demonstrate the value of it.”

Rubio says she’s at the end of her three months on the island. She wraps up in mid-August.

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