General Characteristics of Shellfish

The term 'shellfish' includes any aquatic invertebrate, such as molluscs or crustaceans, that has a shell or shell-like exoskeleton. The cephalopods have an internal shell (as in squids) or no shell (as in octopods). Owing to the presence of the tough exoskeleton, the edible portion in shellfish (around 40%) is less than that in finfish, with the exception of cephalopods, whose dressing percentage is 70-75%. The lipid content of the edible parts of most shellfish is low, as bivalves store their energy surplus as glycogen and not as depot fat, while crustaceans and cephalopods store their fat in their digestive glands (hepatopancreas). In many fish-eating communities, these foods are very highly valued gastronomically.

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