Tag Archives: seafood

Seafood Analytics CQR

Handheld Reader Detects Freshness of Seafood

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Seafood Analytics CQR
Seafood Analytics CQR
The CQR device from Seafood Analytics measures the freshness and quality of seafood.

How fresh is “fresh”? This is a question that is asked throughout the supply chain as it pertains to seafood. Determining the quality and freshness of seafood has long been an issue in the industry. A handheld screening and data collection device developed by Seafood Analytics uses electrical currents to generate the cellular quality of seafood products.

The CQR device measures how much the cells inside a fish species change over time. Real-time measurements can be taken in different conditions, from catch to freezing, or from catch to consumption. The device can be used throughout the supply chain, including by grocery chains, foodservice distributors, and harvesters and processors. By enabling users to evaluate the quality and freshness of seafood, the CQR device also helps reduce shrink loss, manage inventory, determine inbound supplier selection and set pricing based on quality.

A food company’s supply chain can be the weakest link in their food safety program.  Learn more about how to protect your supply chain at the Food Safety Supply Chain conference | June 5–6, 2017 | Rockville, MDSeafood Analytics is currently developing a Certified Quality Seafood certification that would allow suppliers to promote their seafood. Seafood buyers would be able to locate suppliers that sell high quality seafood that has been measured by the CQR device, and seafood sellers would be able to certify their products through this certification program.

Mislabeled Salmon

Rapid Salmon ID Test the Latest in Fraud Prevention

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Mislabeled Salmon

Two rapid test kits have been launched for the identification of salmon species: Chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and Sockeye (Oncorhynchus nerka). The tool kits were developed in collaboration with the University of Guelph and allow distributors, food processors and government regulators to positively identify the salmon species in less than two hours. 

Recent studies have revealed that a significant amount of the salmon sold in the United States is mislabeled.

The test kits are used in conjunction with a portable, real-time PCR system that provides DNA detection. The tools are part of the Instant ID Species product line from InstantLabs, which include seafood identification tests for Atlantic (Salmo salar) and Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch as well as Atlantic Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus) and U.S. Catfish (Ictalurus species).

Retail Food Safety Forum

Untangling the Net of Seafood Fraud

By Maria Fontanazza
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Achieving complete traceability is a must to combating seafood fraud. How is industry getting there?

The length and complexity of the seafood supply chain has created an ideal environment for fueling the mislabeling of the world’s most highly traded food commodity. Considering 91% of all seafood consumed in the United States imported, the ethical and economic impact of seafood mislabeling is enormous. While increased demand is putting pressure on the seafood industry, federal agencies are laying the groundwork to aggressively attack the rampant mislabeling problem.

“Illegal unregulated and unreported fishing is a huge global phenomenon that distorts markets and skews estimates of fish abundance,” said Kimberly Warner, PhD, senior scientist at Oceana, during a recent webinar on food fraud. The goal is to achieve complete transparency and traceability, keeping the “who, what, when, where, and how” with the fish. “Right now when fish are landed, they are required in the United States to list the species, where it was caught, [and] how it was caught. But that information is not following seafood through the supply chain.”

Simply put, seafood fraud is as any illegal activity that misrepresents the seafood one buys. According to Oceana, this can include not disclosing the real name of the fish or its origin, not providing an accurate weight, adding water or breadcrumbs, not declaring the presence of additives, or selling “fresh” fish that was previously frozen.

There are several motivations behind seafood fraud, says Warner. Some businesses want to increase profits and avoid profits; others want to hide illegally caught seafood or engage in trading endangered or threatened species, or mask seafood hazards; and some companies are just ignorant to the requirements of seafood labeling.

The lack of reliable and trustworthy information poses a challenge to consumers who want to make informed decisions when purchasing seafood. While proactive consumers use guides such as  “Seafood Watch”, a program offered by the by Monterey Bay Aquarium, in many cases they still do not have enough information to make a decision with complete confidence.

Supply Chain Traceability

Last month the Presidential Task Force on Combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud released its final recommendations for creating a risk-based traceability program that tracks seafood from harvest to entry into U.S. commerce. The ambitious action plan seeks to tackle the following goals:

•    Combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud at the international level
•    Strengthen enforcement and enhance enforcement tools
•    Create and expand partnerships with nonfederal entities to identify and eliminate seafood fraud and the sale of IUU seafood products in U.S. commerce
•    Increase information available on seafood products through additional traceability requirements

Key dates on the plan’s timeline include identifying the minimum types of information and operational standards by June 30, which will be followed by a 30-day comment period; engaging the public on principles used to define “at risk” species by July and releasing final principles and “at risk” species by October 2015; and building international capacity to manage fisheries and eliminate IUU fishing, with an interagency working group developing an action plan by April 2016.

Bait & Switch: Quick Stats Behind Seafood Mislabeling

•    Red snapper is the most commonly mislabeled fish (up to 28 species were found to be substituted, a large amount being tilapia)
•    74% of fish are mislabeled in sushi venues
•    38% of restaurants mislabel seafood
•    30% of shrimp samples misrepresented
•    Chesapeake Blue Crab cakes: out of 90 sampled, 38% mislabeled, with 44% coming from the Indo-Pacific region

Statistics generated from studies conducted by Oceana in which the organization gathered seafood samples nationwide. 

 

 

How can consumers protect themselves?

Warner’s advice: Ask the folks behind the seafood counter where they purchase their seafood from and whether it is farmed or fresh. If you can, buy the whole fish, because it’s harder to disguise when whole. And finally, if the price is too good to be true, it probably is. “Expect to pay more for wildly caught, responsibly fished seafood,” she said. 

Related content: InstantLabs Launches DNA-based Atlantic and Coho Salmon SpeciesID Test Kits to Combat Seafood Mislabeling

InstantLabs Launches DNA-based Atlantic and Coho Salmon SpeciesID Test Kits to Combat Seafood Mislabeling

The company has broadened species identification product line created in partnership with University of Guelph and plans to release additional test kits during the year.

InstantLabs announced today the expansion of its SpeciesID product line by offering DNA-based tests for Atlantic and Coho salmon. InstantLabs SpeciesID™ tests provide accurate DNA verification in under two hours.

The launch of the salmon test kits highlights InstantLabs’ efforts to meet market demand by expanding the affordable, simple-to-use InstantID™ product line. The company already offers kits to identify Atlantic Blue Crab, pork and horse meat. The InstantLabs’ system gives food wholesalers, processors and inspectors a fast and reliable option for product tests.

The two new products were created in partnership with the University of Guelph, an international leader in agricultural and food science. The InstantID test kits for Atlantic (Salmo salar) and Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) are the first of four salmon assays planned for release during 2015. InstantLabs will launch InstantID™ for Chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and Sockeye (Oncorhynchus nerka) salmon later this year.

Expanding its presence in the high-demand seafood market, the Baltimore-based manufacturer of the Hunter® system expects to also release InstantID™ kits for snapper, catfish, grouper, and tilapia.

“Producers, wholesalers and government entities needs robust tools to combat seafood fraud,” said Steven Guterman, chief executive officer of InstantLabs. “InstantLabs’ real-time PCR testing systems and reagent kits can become an integral part in a testing program to verify labeling accuracy.”

InstantLabs’ Hunter® Real-Time PCR instrument combines accuracy, speed, and ease-of-operation into a compact portable system. The Hunter system is designed for use at points-of-need to detect and analyze a wide variety of food samples by targeting DNA. Results delivered quickly allow seamless integration into food industry firms’ processes and facilities.

Dr. Robert Hanner, Ph. D., has directed the University of Guelph’s research in conjunction with InstantLabs. “This collaboration has been essential in commercializing DNA-based food authentication tests for the seafood industry,” said Dr. Hanner, associate professor at the Center of Biodiversity Genomics. “This technology will help safeguard against existing supply chain vulnerabilities, protecting both businesses and consumers from food fraud.”

InstantLabs identification tests are designed for use on the Hunter, a real-time PCR system developed by the company, and are also available for use with other PCR instruments.

Seafood industry reports continue to highlight concerns about fraud, species substitution and consumer preferences to use sustainable fish stocks. Approximately one-third of all fish sold in the U.S. was mislabeled, reported a recent survey from Oceana. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration identifies a range of lower valued fish regularly substituted for 20 higher-priced species. InstantLabs will provide critical tool sets needed by the industry to ensure the integrity of the supply chain.

ABOUT INSTANTLABS:

InstantLabs, a molecular diagnostic device company, developed and markets the Hunter® Accelerated-PCR system, a fully-integrated, easy-to-use, portable and affordable real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) platform for rapid, accurate pathogen detection. InstantLabs Medical Diagnostics Corp., the legal entity, offers the Hunter® system for use with several food-borne pathogen test kits for the global food industry. The Hunter® system is especially well suited for use at points-of-care and points-of-need to detect and analyze a wide variety of common and problematic pathogens. InstantLabs’ growing worldwide customer base includes some of the world’s leading food companies. InstantLabs is also developing products for additional markets, including medical diagnostics where gold-standard accuracy, combined with Ease-of-use and rapid results, are critical. Founded in 2008, InstantLabs is located in Baltimore, MD. For more information please visit www.instantlabs.com.

ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF GUELPH:

Acknowledged as one of the leading public research universities, the University has 39 Canada Research chairs in natural sciences, energy, health services and social sciences. With a commitment to student learning and innovative research, University leaders are dedicated to cultivating the essentials for our quality of life – water, food, environment, animal and human health, community, commerce, culture and learning. The University community also shares a profound sense of social responsibility, an obligation to address global issues and a concern for international development. Learn more at www.uoguelph.ca.

Additional resources on seafood fraud:

Lessons Learned from the Implementation of Seafood HACCP for FSMA

By Tim Hansen
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While HACCP has been highly successful and truly promoted seafood safety and consumer confidence in these products, there are several useful lessons that may make your transition to FSMA compliance easier.

One of the tenets of FSMA is the requirement for preventive systems (AKA HACCP) for all food groups regulated by FDA. Up to the time of passage of FSMA, FDA wanted preventive systems only for seafood, fruit and vegetable juices and low-acid canned foods.

Since the requirement for preventive controls is about to be extended to all foods regulated by FDA, it may be instructive for affected food firms to consider some of the common problems experienced by the seafood industry during the implementation of HACCP. This regulation has been highly successful and truly promoted seafood safety and consumer confidence in these products. There are several useful lessons that may make your transition to compliance easier.

1. Unnecessary CCPs. Implementation of the Seafood HACCP regulation came with a great deal of uncertainty for the industry. Their response was to include a hazard as a CCP even when it did not meet the FDA “reasonably likely to occur” standard. This resulted in some cases overly complicated HACCP plans. Firms can avoid this problem through rigorous hazard analysis and following agency guidance for the commodity being processed.

2. Mixing sanitation controls with HACCP controls. The Seafood HACCP Regulation requires that certain aspects of sanitation be properly controlled, monitored and documented through records. While it is feasible to include these controls within the HACCP plan it is much simpler keep sanitation controls separate from HACCP controls. A sanitation SOP is highly recommended that show how sanitation is controlled, monitored and recorded.

3. Monitoring need to be available in their original form in an organized fashion. Inadequate or poorly organized monitoring records were a big problem. Ideally, records should not be rewritten unless absolutely necessary. Rewritten records are a red flag to FDA investigators. If records are missing do not falsify information to fill the gaps. This could be the basis for a severe regulatory action. It is much better to perform a verification review and corrective action that is available to the investigator.

4. If a new product is introduced to your processing operation the HACCP plan should be amended immediately. Do not wait until a convenient time as a regulator could show up at any time. Also, do not assume that the hazard analysis and HACCP plan for a similar product will be the same. Either can result in a finding of failure to have a HACCP plan. You should start at the beginning with a proper hazard analysis and develop the plan for that product in accordance with the hazards you identify.

5. Scientific studies used to establish a critical limit for a CCP should be readily available to the investigator. For example, a study to show the necessary heat penetration time-temperature parameters of a cooked product to achieve sufficient bacterial kill or the proper mix of salt, water and exposure time to achieve a proper level of water phase salts in a cold smoked fish products are important information for the investigator to evaluate whether the critical limit of a CCP is adequate to control the hazard.

6. Generic HACCP plans should not be used. In the past some operations adopted a generic HACCP plan to cover their processing without performing a hazard analysis. This often resulted in hazards being missed and a faulty plan. FDA expects that each firm will conduct a hazard analysis. Not doing so could result in a serious charge.

This article originally appeared in EAS-e-News, March 2015 edition. 

 

Sangita Viswanathan, Former Editor-in-Chief, FoodSafetyTech

Is that Red Snapper on your Plate Really a Red Snapper?

By Sangita Viswanathan
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Sangita Viswanathan, Former Editor-in-Chief, FoodSafetyTech

Over the past few years, several consumer and news organizations have researched and tested seafood available in supermarkets and restaurants. The findings:

  • Some 35 percent of seafood samples in the U.S. were found mislabeled; 
  • Of the fish that were most commonly mislabeled, 
  • Red Snapper topped the list (at 86 percent being mislabeled);  
  • Nearly 16 percent of grouper was mislabeled; 
  • In one out of five cases, Atlantic or farmed salmon was substituted for wild or King salmon; and
  • “White tuna” was mislabeled 100 percent of the time. 

A more recent investigation into fish labeling fraud carried out in Europe revealed that 32 percent of seafood in Italy, 30 percent of all hake in Spain and 19 percent of cod in Ireland were mislabeled. Repeated studies have shown that these results are not one-off, but seafood fraud is consistent and not showing signs of any improvement.

E. Pearce Smith, Laboratory manager, GeneScan, at Eurofins talks about the challenges in testing seafood authenticity. There are a couple of issues with regards to seafood fraud, Smith says: “From an economic standpoint, you could be buying a cheaper fish (for instance a breaded tilapia fillet instead of a breaded grouper fillet) for more money. Also, from a quality point of view, you lose out.”

More importantly, Smith adds, from a food safety perspective, if you are unknowingly processing a wild grouper sandwich, you are not considering the right safety, microbiological and decomposition markers for the wild fish. Or if it is a farmed tilapia product, you are not looking at prohibited veterinary drugs in farmed fish.

The horsemeat scandal that rocked large regions of Europe in 2013 was the basis for this focus, Smith says. “With horsemeat being sold as beef, producers were not testing their beef products for bute or phenylbutazone, an anti-inflammatory used by vets mainly to treat pain and fever in horses.”

When testing is an art as well as a science

So far, seafood species authentication depended on tests that were developed many years ago. FDA published a protein method known as isoelectric focusing, in which you take a piece of a tissue, digest it into a slurry and run it out into a gel. By comparing the banding pattern to known references, you can conclude what kind of fish it is. The problem with this technique, Smith says, is that it is often inconclusive, or at least open to interpretation in many cases.

So, about three years ago, FDA decided to abandon this 1950s technology for a more modern technology – DNA barcoding.  So now, instead of using a protein pattern, the test involves isolating the DNA and amplifying a specific section of it for analysis. 

“In a relatively short sequence, of about 700 base pairs, it’s very easy to distinguish one species of fish from another,” Smith says, adding that now food companies want to drive the switch from the protein testing to the DNA method.  Testing for the protein requires a lot more hands-on time and testing one sample can take several hours, Smith explains. “With the DNA method, you can automate the testing to a much higher degree to handle hundreds of sample a day. And with the cost of sequencing dropping, such testing is no longer cost-prohibitive,” he adds.

Robust methodology

The new methodology is robust because DNA is a very stable molecule, according to Smith. “You can test raw or cooked fish with this method, while the protein test was not as good at spanning the pre- to post-processed product. You can also test a finished product such as a frozen fish dinner.”

What are the limitations? Smith lists a few examples: Testing a food product that could have multiple types of fish, such as a fish cake or Surimi, which are ground up into a paste, and could have multiple seafood products in them. Canned tuna is not suitable for testing, because the high pressure process involved is very destructive and you may not be able to get a nice clean read of the DNA. FDA has identified about 150 unique species as targets for substitution, or of high commercial value at risk of being substituted for monetary gains.

“The samples that we get from food producers usually turn out to be what we expect them to be, but sometimes, they don’t. When we get samples from consumer groups, about 30 percent are mislabeled. Also, variations in regional names for that particular fish also contribute to confusion and mislabeling,” Smith explains.

FDA is now publishing the reference sequences for the different species of fish to make identification quicker and easier. Earlier people had to rely on private databases and some of these, while good, weren’t easily accessible. 

Smith sees a lot of demand for testing species such as salmon (differentiating pink salmon Oncorhynchus gorbuscha, Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, or Coho salmon Oncorhynchus kisutch); and red snapper (which faces high demand but is low in supply, and is commonly substituted with other fish of the same size or color). He says that the importance for this testing is growing increasingly as companies are importing seafood product, and it is critical that the species be correctly identified on the packaging. Imports are the source of as much as 90 percent of the fish consumed in the U.S., and only about 2 percent of those products are inspected, he adds.