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Bleach-Dipped Lobster Detection Technique
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GRANT NUMBER:  NA76FD0102           NMFS NUMBER:   96-NER-106

REPORT TITLE:  Bleach-Dipped Lobster Detection Technique

AUTHOR: Dr. Francis X. Smith

PUBLISH DATE:  January 25, 1999

AVAILABLE FROM:  National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Region, One Blackburn Drive, Gloucester, Massachusetts 01930-2298.   TELEPHONE:  (978) 281-9117

ABSTRACT

Bleach dipping is a widely used technique for illegal removal of eggs from female lobsters. A simple, non-invasive technique was developed for detecting the presence of small amounts of bleach on lobsters. Cotton swabs dipped in a starch/iodide solution turned blue when rubbed on the tails of bleach-dipped lobsters. Swabs rubbed on non-bleached control lobster tails did not change color. The illegal removal of eggs from female lobster is a significant problem in the lobster industry. One of the most common techniques for egg removal is to dip the tail of the lobster in a chlorine bleach solution. Since there are no obvious external signs of the bleach treatment, these scrubbed lobsters can then be sold. Previous methods for detecting bleach treatment involved removing the pleopods or swimmerettes for 200x microscopic evaluation or potassium iodide solution color detection, compromising the health of the lobster. The method described in this paper can be done without harming or damaging the lobster, and is quick, simple and precise. 

 
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