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Consistent high standards with fish and seafood quality analysis

Rapid tests on fish and shellfish for fat, oil, moisture, protein and aqueous salt ensures brand protection and efficient processing

Freshness, colour, oil content, fat content, texture, nutritional value, water retention – the list of quality parameters of fish and seafood goes on. But given the delicate and vulnerable nature of fish and seafood there are plenty of potential risks to quality. Cheating for financial gain introduces even further threats to quality. At the same time, there is a growing interest of consumers in food quality and safety issues.

Traditional analytical methods for fish and seafood quality analysis include various physicochemical, textural, sensory, and electrical methods. Despite the importance of these standard methods, they are expensive and time-consuming and susceptible to variation. Analytical solutions based on near infrared (NIR) have therefore become popular due to speed of analysis, minimal sample preparation and high repeatability. Multiple parameters including moisture, fat, oils, salt, pH and more can be delivered within in half a minute making NIR a versatile solution for different application areas from laboratories seeking a fast turnaround time, to analysis directly in the processing environment.

Advantages of fish and seafood quality analysis include optimal selection of raw material, exact matching of fat content specifications, production efficiency and ultimately, brand protection through compliance with end-product specifications and legal declarations.

Insights add value

 

Fish process line

Raw material control

Quality assurance of incoming raw material ensures: segregation of raw materials, efficient raw material use, secure homogeneous final products, brand protection.

Process control

Process control ensures: adjustment to secure desired quality, brand protection.

Final product control

Final product control ensures: verification of specification, brand protection.

On the spot fish and seafood quality analysis

 

Fast, accurate and easy to use instruments based on proven near infrared (NIR) technology are perfect for fish and seafood quality analysis, including analysis of raw and processed meat.

The instruments can be used in the production environment and for all stages of fish processing, from raw material to final product control, for example, the FoodScan™ 2 Fish Analyser gives you accurate results in just 25 seconds. See this demonstration video for a typical NIR analyser.

 

 

Quick fat checks ensure top quality in herring, mackerel and salmon

 

Rapid fish and seafood quality analysis with NIR adds value when processing oily fish types such as Salmon, Herring and Mackerel.

In Salmon processing, the fat percentage may be used for segregation of the salmon (for different process¬ing) or as a simple intake check. Assessing the oil/fat content prior to processing is very important, as this will affect the smoking conditions to ensure an optimum product, along with more consistent nutritional values, taste and texture.

Similarly, fat content is critical for quality of Mackerel. The fish has the highest fat content in spring and pre-summer; con¬sequently, the price is higher at this time of the year. Some fishermen will store the mackerel until this season in order to sell the mackerel at a higher price. Therefore a test for fat percentage of the load will show if the load has the desired high fat per¬centage to match the high price.

Ensuring fat content in Herrings with rapid NIR analysis
The fat content in Herring varies from approximately 10-12% up to 22-24% depending on the season and the size of the fish. Herring with a high fat percentage (22-24%) is in high demand in certain countries such as the Netherlands, where the herring will be sold classified as Matjes Herring, which obtains a significantly higher price than herring with a lower fat content. For each landing, the fish are sorted according to size, and analysed to determine the fat content in each size category (3-4 size categories). Generally, the fat content increases with the increasing size. Analysis is performed on both filets with skin and filets without skin, as some of the fat comes off as a result of the de-skinning.

The FoodScanTM 2 NIR analyser is used to measure the fat content of herrings at landing to classify the quality of a herring shipload.The fat content is also used to calculate the correct brine/pickle ratios for the cured product. Further, the pickled herrings are analysed to determine fat content (documentation needed to meet end-customer specifications) as well as salt, acidity or pH and total solids.

Meeting quality targets while saving time and labour
Rapid analysis with NIR is much faster and simpler than traditional laboratory analysis which has previously proven to be a bottleneck. At peak season, the demand for tests often exceeds the analytical capability and it is costly to employ more skilled staff. Another benefit of rapid NIR analysis is smoother pro¬duction and less time wasted on waiting for results. This also leads to improved product quality, as fresh fish is a perishable product that depends on a short turnaround time.

Learn more about NIR analytical technology in this short guide.

 

 

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Perfect processing and packaging of tinned tuna

 

Moisture and protein content are critical parameters during tuna processing. A quick test for moisture is an excellent way to ensure quality and optimal profit as it helps to predict the tuna meat’s brine absorption ability. The more brine that can be absorbed, the higher the “drain weight” of the product.

Opportunities for analysis in the process include:

• Sampling at landing point to check moisture content (provides information about the freshness of the tuna)
• Sampling after pre-cooking to check protein content and to check if the heating process is optimal (getting the pro¬tein and moisture content right, results in reduced waste of meat in the cutting process).
• During processing: control of histamine and salt (histamine regulations: Ecuador: 50 ppm; US: 100 ppm)
• Declarations: typical chemical parameters to declare by law on consumer cans/packaging: fat, protein, salt/sodium, carbohydrates, saturated fat, fibre, cholesterol.

Screen for fraudulent scallop soaking

 

Scallops are an expensive shellfish that may be subject to fraudulent adjustment of the meat content by ‘soaking’ the scallop, so it absorbs additional water. This increases the weight and reduces the quality of the natural product.

In response, a reference test based on wet chemistry has been established to check the moisture/protein ratio. However, the test can be time consuming and costly especially when regular quick checks are required to screen scallops for possible soaking.

Using a rapid NIR instrument such as the FoodScan 2 is an ideal way to test a lot of samples quickly saving time and money while ensuring consistent quality of delivered products.

Let’s talk about how rapid analysis can improve your fish processing

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