Sensory evaluation of fish


Methods to verify freshness are needed at different transactions points in the fishery chain from catch to consumer, at landing site and the auction and, at all levels of trade from auctioning via wholesale to retail. Sensory evaluation of fish is used by commercial seafood companies as a part of the quality control management to ensure that the product being produced will meet the expectations of both buyers and regulatory agencies.

The sensory evaluation is mostly performed by a single expert or to a less extent by a small group. In fish processing plants frequently small sized panels test cooked samples according to specification of buyers and retailers. Sensory evaluation of whole fish is generally carried out by trained assessors in the reception or processing halls of fish factories or at the auction site. However sensory evaluation of cooked fillets must be carried out in rooms with special facilities. The Codex guidelines for the sensory evaluation of fish and shellfish in laboratories describe facilities, procedures and training of assessors and can be used as a basis for practicing sensory evaluation in the fish sector.

Sensory evaluation can be practiced at different levels in the fish processing. Sensory evaluation in the seafood sector can be divided in three main categories:

  • Sensory evaluation of whole  fish (EU scheme and Quality Index Method (QIM)). Most of the sensory evaluation in the fish industry is done on whole intact fish.  Fish is usually evaluated whole prior to further processing and many grading systems have been developed for whole fish, such as the Quality Index Method.
  • Sensory evaluation of raw fillets (grading).
  • Sensory evaluation of cooked fillets (Torry scheme). Fillets can also be evaluated cooked  giving scores for odour and flavour.  Some buyers of seafood use evaluation of cooked samples as a part of their quality control and demand the same of the sellers.

More information about sensory evaluation of fish freshness can be found in the following book chapters and guidelines.

 

Matís provides services, consultancy and courses in sensory analysis of fish to companies. 
For more information contact:  emilia.martinsdottir@matis.is and kolbrun.sveinsdottir@matis.is


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