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Investigation into the Prevalence and Intensity of Parasitic Nematodes in Farmed Marine Fish, Except Salmon, in Scotland

Institutions
University of Stirling
Start date
2011
End date
2012
Objective
The project aims to improve knowledge of the prevalence and intensity of anisakine nematodes in marine farmed fish in Scotland, and use this to reassess the policy on freezing fishery products that may contain live parasites.

The objectives are to:

  • examine current farm practices to establish key areas of risk for nematode infection
  • to assess likely risks of infected products entering the human food chain
  • to assess current anisakine nematode infection of halibut and trout in Scotland
  • improve understanding of infection in cultured fish species
  • to disseminate knowledge to relevant stakeholders
A review of current farming practices for halibut and trout will be conducted, coupled with an assessment of known host and parasite biology, to provide an assessment of key risks posed by current mariculture models. This project will also conduct a programme of sampling for the targeted fish species, and quantify and identify nematodes from sampled fish with full metadata documentation.
More information
Background:
Nematode worms of the family Anisakis are common trophically-transmitted parasites of marine fish. Eating infected raw or nearly raw fish can result in a severe inflammatory disease known as Anisakiasis. Additionally, the presence of anisakine antigens in seafood may cause allergic reactions.

Cooking or freezing kills anisakis in fish flesh. However, these steps do not eradicate the antigens that may still trigger an allergic response. Cold-smoking or pickling fish does not necessarily kill anisakis parasites.

The EU implements freezing as the method used to kill any nematodes in fishery products eaten raw or cold smoked (EC 853/2004, Section VIII, Annex III, Section D). However, the introduction of freezing to the farmed salmon industry had major implications for the smoked fish product.

Work previously funded by the Food Standards Agency in Scotland showed that farmed Atlantic salmon were free from Anisakis. However, data does not exist for other fish species farmed in Scotland.

This new study will investigate other commercially produced fish species that, at some point during their life cycle, are farmed in seawater in Scotland, including Atlantic halibut and rainbow trout.

Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the Food Standards Agency Research webpage.

Funding Source
Food Standards Agency
Project number
FS241054
Categories
Policy and Planning
Food Preparation and Handling
Parasites