Summary wrap up of product quality and safety issues at AQUA 2006, Florence
The topics of quality and safety of products resulting from aquaculture were basically presented in the ‘SEAFOODplus’ session and in the ‘Product Quality and Food Safety’ session respectively. The nine presentations in the condensed SEAFOODplus session gave a highlight of the broad range of aspects contained in this large Integrated Projects embracing human nutrition, consumer issues, food safety, functional food and traceability, to mention some of the aspects.
It is clear that the genetic variation and regulation of genes is essential for the quality of the final products coming from farmed fish. Some recent examples of recent research results illustrated this by showing how genes regulating muscle cell density and collagen crosslinking are major determinants for muscle texture. Further, genes regulating endocrinology, i.e. ghrelin stimulating appetite, and leptin signalling satiety have recently been discovered in salmonids, but the mechanisms for endocrinology action seems to be different from mammals.
Among the new molecular biological techniques proteomics offers a great potential for analysing which genes are being expressed in the live fish under different physiological conditions, and can tell to what extent different stressful situations changes the metabolic patterns by e.g. downregulating protein synthesis and upregulating enzymes releasing amino acids for energy purposes. Similarly proteomics can be used for monitoring quality changes during post mortem handling and storage of products.
A brand new technology has been developed for monitoring animal welfare in live fish by inserting a ‘smart tag’ for electronic registration of breathing and fish physiology reactions. Seafood safety was covered in an excellent overview showing how newly developed PCR methods may be used for rapid detection of pathogenic bacteria and viruses. The latter is very relevant for shellfish farming, where new methods for predicting pollution areas and methods for depuration of the harvest are being developed.
Labelling and traceability were discussed and it is clear that the new European legislation of ‘one look back and one look forward’, as well as the US COOL legislation of labelling of origin will make important changes to the way aquaculture products are being marketed. However, the possibility for tailor making products of consistent quality according to retailer’s specification will make it possible for farmed fish to penetrate the market in the future and help deliver nutritious and safe seafood demanded by consumers. A very good overview at the SEAFOODplus session showed how consumers react to aquacultured fish and which information sources the consumers trust.
Referee: Torger Børresen, Coordinator SEAFOODplus