Legislation: Fish, crustaceans and molluscs

Table 1 Regulations in fishcrustaceans and shellfish derived from the Status of food-safety (Dutch Food Safety Authority)

(EC) No 178/2002General principles and of food law establishing the European Food Authority and laying down procedures in matters of food safety
(EC) No 853/2004Hygiene in the of products of animal origin
(EC) No 2073/2005Microbiological criteria for food
(EC) No 854/2004Official controls on food from animal products
(EC) No 1881/2006Determining maximum levels of certain pollutants
The legislation table will be renewed: An update will follow soon

Microbiology of fish, crustaceans and molluscs

Table 2 Common microbiological hazards (The full table, with extensive on the hazards, can be found at the link.)

GenusPathogenic speciesGRForm, mobilityO₂T (C.)T1 (C.)pH-OpH-RaWIllness
Aeromonashydrophilic, sobria, caviaeRod, mobileFa20-354,0-42,04,0-10,0>0.97Infection: diarrhoea, stomachache and vomiting.
Bacilluscereus+Rod (3-5 um length 1 um wide) spore forming, mobileAerobe (sometimes Fa)28,3510,0-48,06-7,54,9-9,3>0.91Poisoning (Tox. 1) and infection (Tox. 2)
Campylobacterjenuni, coliSpiral formed rod, mobile.Min. 3 % Max. 15 % opt. 5 % oxygen42-4530-476,5 – 7,54,9 – 9,5> 0.98 Infection: Stomachache, diarrhoea, fever, sometimes meningitis.
Listeriamonocytogenes (11 species; 3 cause 90% of the infections)+Rod (0,5-2,0um long, 0,5um wide), mobile at 20-25°C.Fa3,0-37,00-4575-9 (at 4gr. C) 4,4-9,0 (at 30grC)> 0.92Infections of healthy individuals lead to flu . Infants, the Elderly, the ill and pregnant women might get severe symptoms when infected by Listera. (Meningitis, blood poisoning and abortion). In these groups is the mortality 30-50%.
PlesiomonasshigalloidesRodFa37-388,0-44,05-7,7Infection: stomach and intestine (diarrhoea, stomachache, vomiting) could cause meningitis in sensitive individuals (very young children, elderly and immunodeficiency
Two thousand three hundred species that might cause enteritis (stomach inflammation).Rod, sometimes mobileFa35-375,0-45,074,0-9,0>0.93Infection: intestinal inflammation. For the elderly, small children and sick, illness can be fatal.
Salmonellatyphus; paratyphusRodFa375,0-45,0>0.93Typhus, paratyphus are the most severe illnesses caused by Salmonella.
Yersiniaentero-colitica (some species are pathogenic)Rod, sometimes round, sometimes mobileFa32-340-447,0-8,04.6-9.0 at 25° C>0.96
Infection: diarrhoea, a similar to appendicitis and is rarely fatal.
VibriocholeraVibrio formed, mobile.Fa30-3715-426,0-10,0>0.94Cholera

 Table 3 Virusesrickettsia in fishcrustaceans and products, derived from Hazard table Viruses, rickettsia, prions

Virus, , prionOriginFood productMIDDiseasePreventive MeasurementsComments
Hepatitis-aHumanAll food products are contaminated by humans or food that is contaminated by faecal polluted →, especially shellfish.A few virus particlesInfectious jaundice. Incubation period: 2 to 6 weeks.Personal hygiene. Contaminated should not process raw materials. Heat several minutes at 85-90 ° C. Sensitive target groups should prevent shellfish consumption.Chlorination resistant. Because of the long incubation time, is it difficult to trace the origin.
Viral-gastro-enteritis (stomach flu with diarrhoea, stomach ache and vomiting) viruses (adenovirus, astrovirus, calicivirus, coronavirus, Norwalk virus, rotavirus)HumanAll food products direct or through aerosols or vomiting by Human contaminated or faecal polluted water → especially shellfish.A few virus particlesGastroenteritis. Incubation time is 12-50 hours; infants and small children are extra sensitive to viruses.Personal hygiene. Contaminated persons should prevent the handling of raw materials. Heating: several minutes at 85-90 ° C. Sensitive target groups should prevent shellfish consumption.Norwalk virus is the most common among older children and adults. However, rotavirus could be fatal for infants and young children. In addition, 30% of gastroenteritis is caused by viruses (not necessarily through food!).
Norwalk-like (Norovirus) viruses (part of the Calici-virus family.Before consumption, shellfish and washed fruits and vegetables are food products without heat treatment.10-100 (very low)Infection caused explosive diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and fever. Children mainly vomit. Incubation period: 24-48 hours. The duration disease is two days. o Medication is not available and necessary. All consumers are prone to infections. Groups with decreased immunity (YOPIs) have an increased risk. Infected people stay three days after being symptom-free contagious. Infected people stay three days after being symptom-free contagious.Do not use water that faeces might contaminate from producing fresh food products. O, Heat one and a half minutes at 90 °C to inactivate viruses. Improve hygiene of the whole food chain. Staff who are probably contaminated should conduct different work, even after the disappearance of the symptoms. Inhibit virus outbreaks in places where contaminated shellfish are being cultivated. Development of microbiological quality criteria for viruses.NLV viruses are very contagious. Toxins are not being formed. This type of virus could cause outbreaks in places where humans live in close communities. Days can survive when a product is heated insufficiently. There is no legislation for the inhibition of viral food infections. The virus needs bacteria to reproduce.

Chemistry: Fish, crustaceans and molluscs

Table 4 possible chemical hazards

componentFood productLegislationComments
Dioxins: Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins (PCDD’s), Polychlorinated dibenzofurans PCDF and 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzodioxin (TCDD).Herbs (through Feed) and , fish (especially fatty fish such as herring and salmon) and Vegetables, Oils/fats, dairy and eggsMaximum levels according to Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006Formed from chlorinated linkages during heating with low oxygen levels. Carcinogenic for humans and animals above a threshold level.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxin-like PCBs (dl-PCBs)Herbs (through Feed), poultry, fish (especially fatty fish such as herring and salmon), Vegetables, Oils/fats, dairy and eggsMaximum levels according to Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006Carcinogenic for animals and humans. Moreover, it might induce skin disorders, reproductive toxicity and liver diseases. PCBs burn above 1200 °C, are insoluble and are applied as plasticizers, paint, ink, lacquer, glue and insecticides.
Polybrominated diphenyl ethersthrough water in fish.

Biotoxins: Fish, crustaceans and molluscs

Table 5 possible biotoxins in fish, shellfish and crustaceans.

Name BiotoxinOriginFood productThe lethal dose (µg)IllnessPreventive measurementsComments
Ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP)Single cell-based dinoflagellate: Gaberdiscus toxicus, living in tropical reefsFish that directly consumed plants or indirect through other fish.Neurotoxin: paralysis could result in death, however, the mortality is low (2-7%); illness could last long and the incubation time is around 30 hours.Control of tropic fish.The specific toxins involved are mainly ciguatoxin and maitotoxin.
ScombroidMicrobiologic degradation of histidine to histamine in fish.Mackerel fish (Mackerel, sardines and tuna).Allergic reaction. Incubation: 10-90 minutes.fish should be stored cold (below 10 °C).The is heat stable.
Amnesic-shellfish-poison (ASP)Algae (diatom from the Nitzschia pungens species).Accumulation in shellfish.Memory loss, sometimes lasting.Inhibit the growth of algae that can produce toxic components.The toxin is heat stable. Only on the American and Canadian east coast.
Paralytic-shellfish-poison (PSP) {paralysis}Algae (dinoflagellate)Accumulation in shellfish.500-5000 (humans). 0,3 ( die after 5-7 minutes)Toxin blocks nerve transmission Mortality: 1-20%. Incubation: 1-30 min.Inhibit the growth of algae that can produce toxic components.The toxin is heat stable. Algae is not located in the Dutch waters yet, although it can grow in temperate climates.
Diarrhetic-shellfish-poison (DSP)Algae (dinoflagellate).Accumulation in shellfish.50 (mild symptoms based on okadaic acid)Diarrhoea, stomachache, vomiting. Incubation time is between 30 min and several hours.Inhibit the growth of algae that can produce toxic components.The toxin is heat stable. Algae is incidentally encountered in Dutch waters.
Neurotoxic-shellfish-poison (NSP)Algae (dinoflagellate); high concentrations could colour the sea red (red tide).Accumulation in shellfish.10 (deadly for mice)Blocks nerve transmission. Rarely deadly. Incubation time is two minutes to several hours.Inhibit the growth of algae that can produce toxic components.The toxin is heat stable and endemic in Subtropical waters.
Biogenic-amine HistaminePlants, animals and microbesAlmost all food products high in proteins. Histamine is formed from histidine by enzymes mainly from the Enterobacteriaceae.Influences physiological processes in the body. Consumption of biogenic amines could lead to poisoning. Symptoms: nausea, stuffiness, palpitations, eczema, unnatural blood pressure and headache.Often present in fish as histamine, a symptom similar to food poisoning.

Fraud: Fish, crustaceans and molluscs

Fraud Status food safety summary
The fish chain lends itself to various forms of fraud. Some examples follow.

  • Fish species such as bluefin tuna, cod, and sole can be replaced by fish that are much cheaper. In a filleted state, this can only be found by performing DNA .
  • MSC-certified fish offered cannot in reality be MSC-certified fish.
  • Improper handling and the use of additives and dyes can make fish appear fresher than it actually is.
  • Quotas, which limit the maximum catch of many fish species to prevent overfishing, can be circumvented by keeping caught fish off the books and landing them illegally.
  • Weight indications do not have to correspond to reality.

Unfortunately, we have to note that all these forms of fraud occur in the fishing industry. This can affect food safety. The Dutch Food Safety Authority-IOD sees the following forms of fraud: converting, upgrading, and keeping quoted fish out of the books. These forms of fraud are briefly explained below.

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