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Pre-packed fresh fishery products risks identified

  (EUROPEAN UNION, 7/7/2015)

A group of scientists of European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have found out there are relevant hazards associated with pre-packed fresh fishery products at retail level.

The study was carried out following a request from the European Commission, which asked for the preparation of a scientific report providing scientific and technical aid on the assessment of the temperature that pre-packed fishery products must have to sold at retail leve

Sources consulted by FIS.com revealed that the main temperature-dependent hazards identified are histamine formation, Listeria monocytogenes, Clostridium botulinum, and Yersinia enterocolitica.

These researchers pointed out that packaged fresh fishery products can be stored at refrigeration temperatures above 0 °C and must be compliant with the current EU and international rules. Besides, histamine formation would be 100 ppm at the end of its shelf-life.

An example was provided for a retail temperature of 3 °C, where 100 ppm would be reached under the following conditions:

  • Shelf-life of 6 days and 0 per cent CO2 in the packaging headspace;
  • Shelf-life of 7 days and 20 per cent CO2 in the packaging headspace;
  • Shelf-life of 8 days and 40 per cent CO2 in the packaging headspace.

EFSA researchers concluded that the temperature applied to storage and transport of pre-packed fresh fishery products at retail level can be estimated as the temperature that will provide equal or less growth of those pathogens.

It has also been pointed out thet Y. enterocolitica is the only hazard for which models predicting growth at 0 °C are available and time–temperature scenarios during storage and transport at retail level equivalent to the currently mandated storage requirements can be estimated.

For a fishery product which is stored in ice (0 °C) and a shelf-life of 14 days, the conditions that lead to equivalent growth of Y. enterocolitica to that at 0 °C are, for example: 

  • A shelf-life of 10 days at 2 °C;
  • A shelf-life of 7 days at 4 °C; 
  • A shelf-life of 5 days at 6 °C.

EFSA recommends that, if a temperature limit is deemed necessary, then future legislation should include a clear temperature value instead of statements such as a ‘temperature approaching that of melting ice’.

 
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