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Assessing the use of Carbon Monoxide and Filtered Smoke on the Safety and Quality of Seafood Products


<ol> <li>Conduct a comprehensive assessment on the current use and regulation of CO as a single gas, gas blends, or component of FS, or other treatment for fresh and frozen seafood and aquacultured products.
<li>Evaluate available analytical methods for the determination of CO in seafood products, improve current methods and/or develop new tests.
<li>Systematically investigate the effect of treating fish muscle with CO and FS on a) product safety, specifically the presence and proliferation of microbial pathogens and histamine development, and b) product quality, specifically color changes.
<li>Disseminate the project results to support training, research, commercial practice and regulatory guidance.</ol>

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<ol> <li>The current and evolving practices of CO (carbon monoxide) and FS (filtered smoke) methodology will be assessed with regard to; application methods, concentrations and duration of exposure per product types, packaging and utilization, and domestic and international regulations and surveillance. The approach will involve interviews, on-site observations and surveys through various levels of production, processing, distribution and regulation. The site and individual selections will be determined with guidance from representatives from key US and international organizations. Their input will be gathered through teleconference, questionnaires, project reviews and group meetings at mutual annual events.
<li>We will conduct experiments on real and model systems to determine the accuracy and repeatability of different methods to assess muscle CO concentration. Samples will be treated with a known volume of CO for different lengths of time and temperatures. The level of CO taken up in the samples will be determined by different established methods. A new technique and device to detect CO in seafood products will be developed. The basic concept for our unique CO detection method is to treat muscle tissue with high concentrations of competitive gas that will displace bound. We will investigate different variables such as gas type, sample amount, physical form and temperature.
<li>A comprehensive study will be performed on what occurs with muscle of different commercially important species of fish, treated under various conditions with either CO or FS following different post-processing treatments. We will vary levels of CO/FS, exposure time, temperature, fish age and thickness of fillets/steaks. The kinetics and amount of CO uptake will be analyzed in different layers of the muscle. Color change, the presence and level of microorganisms, specific pathogens and histamine level will be determined. The control will be samples which do not undergo any CO or FS treatment. Mild processing procedures, high pressure and irradiation, aimed at reducing pathogens and histamine formation, with minimal effect on quality will be investigated. Selected CO/FS treated samples will be subjected to these treatments while another batch will be left untreated. The samples will be then subjected to the same tests described above. The processed and unprocessed samples will then be subjected to different storage experiments and the above safety and quality tests performed.
<li>In addition to customary journal publications and research seminars/presentations at annual professional meetings the project will be compiled into a popular version(s) for commercial reference. This extension advisory text or technical paper is anticipated to support regular extension type training and individual advisory efforts. This text will be combined with actual demonstrations via scheduled workshops and formal classroom teaching to explain appropriate CO applications, handling, detection, and product assessments. As a result from this study we plan to organize an international conference at the University of Florida campus covering this topic.</ol>
Recently some seafood processors/importers have introduced the use of carbon monoxide (CO) and filtered smoke (FS) to stabilize red muscle color prior to freezing. These processes have stirred considerable controversy due to concerns that CO/FS treated products could mask underlying seafood safety problems as color is significantly stabilized. CO/FS processing is currently legally practiced in the US and internationally on products entering the US market even though scientific understanding on the effect on product safety and quality is greatly lacking. We will perform a comprehensive integrated study on assessing the status of commercial CO/FS processing; examining ways to accurately determine the presences and quantity of CO in treated muscle; assess how different CO/FS processing methods will affect CO uptake into fish muscle; and determine the effect of different processing and storage treatments of CO/FS treated marine and aquaculture products and evaluating their effect on safety and quality. This work is expected to produce important unbiased scientifically based opinions and information which we will communicate to both industry and government for them to responsibly and correctly make use of this new emerging technology with public safety as the highest priority. </ol>

Marshall Jr, Maurice; Kristinsson, Hordur
University of Florida
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