International journal of food microbiology

Quality and shelf-life prediction for retail fresh hake (Merluccius merluccius).

PMID 26058006


Fish quality has a direct impact on market price and its accurate assessment and prediction are of main importance to set prices, increase competitiveness, resolve conflicts of interest and prevent food wastage due to conservative product shelf-life estimations. In this work we present a general methodology to derive predictive models of fish freshness under different storage conditions. The approach makes use of the theory of optimal experimental design, to maximize data information and in this way reduce the number of experiments. The resulting growth model for specific spoilage microorganisms in hake (Merluccius merluccius) is sufficiently informative to estimate quality sensory indexes under time-varying temperature profiles. In addition it incorporates quantitative information of the uncertainty induced by fish variability. The model has been employed to test the effect of factors such as fishing gear or evisceration, on fish spoilage and therefore fish quality. Results show no significant differences in terms of microbial growth between hake fished by long-line or bottom-set nets, within the implicit uncertainty of the model. Similar conclusions can be drawn for gutted and un-gutted hake along the experiment horizon. In addition, whenever there is the possibility to carry out the necessary experiments, this approach is sufficiently general to be used in other fish species and under different stress variables.