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Jellyfish

 

Although in  many consumers in the West see jellyfish as being a rather unappetizing food product, in other cultural contexts, such as in Asia, some coelenterates are considered to be real delicacies and represent a multibillion dollar business in the field of fishery products. In China, which is the largest producer and processor of jellyfish, the demand for such food is widespread, enough to require livestock to satisfy the domestic market. Because of the nutritional and therapeutic proprieties of jellyfish, it is slowly spreading as a food to other countries such as: the U.S., Australia and the United Kingdom. In fact, with Western consumers overcoming their natural aversion for jellyfish, this product fully satisfies the business trend of the modern food market, which is increasingly aimed at healthy and low calorie products. It is also believed that jellyfish have various medicinal properties, some of which have been scientifically proven, such as the ability to fight arthritis and decrease blood pressure. In Italy, jellyfish is normally available in Asian food stores, where it can be found in various commercial types (bottled, in bulk, in baskets, in foil etc.). However the sale of these products presents specific issues related to gaps in national legislation. Specifically jellyfish do not belong to any particular food category, despite being a marine animal and fully falling within fishery products, as defined in the EU ‘Hygiene Package’ where fishery products are defined as: all seawater or freshwater animals (except for live bivalve molluscs, live echinoderms, live tunicates and live marine gastropods, and all mammals, reptiles and frogs) whether wild or farmed and including all edible forms, parts and products of such animals. In addition, considering the provisions on consumer information concerning fishery products, the other missing element is the absence of a specific commercial name. For this reason,  national legislation should take this type of food into account and regulate its import and sale, thus avoiding the frequent problems related to the non-compliance labeling that have been highlighted by the analysis of certain products purchased in Italy. Furthermore, because technological treatments applied to fresh jellyfish can lead to a complete morphological modification, molecular characterization is necessary, based on specific mitochondrial genes, in order to correctly identify the various species and then define a commercial name to be included in the official lists of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies. Whereas almost all edible jellyfish belong to the Order of Rhizostomae, and the collection of identified specimens represents a fundamental step in developing a molecular technique for the characterization and identification of the products marketed.

PUBLICATIONS

1. Pentaplex PCR As Screening Assay for Jellyfish Species Identification in Food Products. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 62(50), 12134-12143.

2. Jellyfish and Humans: Not Just Negative Interactions. In: Mariottini GL, editor: Jellyfish: Ecology, Distribution Patterns and Human Interactions, Nova Science Publishers 1st edition, 2016, pp.

3. “What is inside the jar? Forensically informative nucleotide sequencing (FINS) of a short mitochondrial COI gene fragment reveals a high percentage of mislabeling  in jellyfish food products” – Food Research International, 54(2) pp 1383-1393

4. Recent strandings of the giant jellyfish Rhizostoma luteum Quoy and Gaimard, 1827 (Cnidaria: Scyphozoa: Rhizostomeae) on the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts – Marine Biology 2013 (DOI 10.1007/s00227-013-2293-6)
5. “La medusa, dalla produzione alla commercializzazione di un alimento tra novità e tradizione” – Il Pesce nr.4, 2011
6. “Mislabeling of an “unlabelable” seafood sold on the European market: the jellyfish” – Food Control, 26 (2) pp 247–251
7. “Indagine microbiologica su prodotti alimentari a base di medusa: risultati preliminari” – A.I.V.I. settembre 2009 n.5

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MEDIA

Video: Chineses hynting jellyfish from Versilia costs to Sicily. La Repubblica, 2009

 

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(Italiano) Report Oceana 2016

(Italiano) Report Oceana 2016

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