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Cephalopods are marine organisms, characterised by rapid growth rate that is strongly influenced by environmental changes. in the latest decades, anthropogenically-induced environmental changes (water warming, overfishing and fish stocks depletion) have led to a substantial increase in their worldwide biomass. Cephalopods are considered a viable alternative to fish meat due to the abundance of the marine stocks and their high nutritional quality. The countless cephalopod species of commercial interest are internationally grouped in the macro categories: Octopus category collecting Amphioctopus sp., Cistopus sp., Enteroctopus sp., Octopus sp. and Eledone sp., Cuttlefish category including Sepia and Sepiella sp. and the squid category that collects long fin squids (Loliginidae family), short fin squids (Ommastrephidae family) and bobtail squid subcategory (Sepiolidae family).

Spain, Italy, Japan and US are the largest consumers and importers of cephalopods principally belonging to international trade and  Major market suppliers include: Asian countries with the leadership of China  followed by Vietnam, India, Indonesia and Thailand; North African countries such as Morocco and Algeria and South American countries that are rapidly improving their production especially with respect to aquaculture; moreover other well-known African countries in cephalopods international market are Mauritania, Senegal for all the three categories, and Namibia and South Africa more specifically for squid.

Commercial cephalopod commodities include fresh and frozen, whole or sliced products (rings and arms, tubes and wings) and, according with the local market demand, canned or ready to eat products (salads, sushi products). Moreover, squids are reported to be used to produce multispecies seafood such as minced burgers or surimi based products. In order to ensure both seafood traceability, mandatory information concerning the products needs to be communicated throughout the supply chain and finally to the consumer: declaration of commercial and scientific name, production method, catching or farming area, category of fishing gear (Reg. EU N. 1379/2013) and the highlighting of the presence of potential allergenic hazard; (Reg. EU N.1169/2011).

The ascertained seafood chain complexity combined with the high number of species that can be introduced on the global market can potentially expose the fish market, more than other sectors, to falsification by substitution of species at any level of the production chain. This project was thought with the aim to implement the traceability and control system of these types of products, given the considerable expansion of the cephalopod market and the multiformity of the trade chain.

Morphological identity cards of the cephalopod species most frequently sold on the Italian and European market were produced in order to provide an immediate analytical tool for field operators working at landing points, at fish markets and/or fresh and frozen fish distribution platforms. The identity cards were prepared on the basis of the identification model proposed by FAO and through the selection of simplified morphological keys enriched by images and photos belonging to identified specimens.

Moreover, in order to implement the traceability check system on processed seafood, a retrospective analysis of the literature about the application of DNA based methods for cephalopods identification has been conducted. The study aimed at evaluating the applicability and limits of the most targeted genes and the molecular techniques currently applied for cephalopods and seafood identification. About this, a study for the characterization of the species most commonly used in China for the preparation of salted and dried cephalopod based products, conducted in partnership with Lingnan-Zhanjiang Normal University, Guangdong Province, is currently being completed.



Wen, L. Tinacci, P.L. Acutis, M.V. Riina, Y. Xu, L. Zeng, X. Ying, Z. Chen, L. Guardone, D. Chen, Y. Sun, J. Zhao, A. Guidi, A. Armani (2017). An insight into the Chinese traditional seafood market: Species characterization of cephalopod products by DNA barcoding and phylogenetic analysis using COI and 16SrRNA genes. Food Control

Luisi E. (2016) “Cefalopodi di principale interesse ispettivo: guida pratica per l’identificazione sul campo”.   Specialization School in Inspection and Control of Food of Animal Origin – Thesis

Tinacci L., Giusti A., Guidi A., Armani A. (2016) Beyond tentacles: improving cephalopod species identification and traceability through DNA based methods. 2016′ lnternationaI CephaIopod Fisherv Meeting. 19-20th November 2016, Zhejiang Ocean University, Zhoushan City, Zhejiang Province, PR China [ABSTRACT]

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(Italiano) Report Oceana 2016

(Italiano) Report Oceana 2016

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