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Anisakis

 

Health problems associated with the consumption of raw or undercooked fresh fish are of greater concern than those affecting other foods, because of the higher perishability of fish, which is strongly influenced by handling of raw materials along the supply chain. Beyond the microbiological problems, one of the main risks associated with the consumption of raw fish is linked to the presence of parasitic nematodes belonging to the genus Anisakis. In fact, these parasites may be responsible, in humans, for acute or chronic gastro-enteric diseases and allergic forms, sometimes severe. In the last decade, about 20,000 cases of Anisakidosis have been reported worldwide. As a consequence of the increasingly difficult management of the “Anisakis” issue, of the involvement of large geographic areas and of the considerable number of people affected, a series of regulations and legislation aimed at the management of such danger have been issued over the years both at European and national level. At the same time, new food trends of western consumers, characterized by a growing appreciation of Asian flavors, have determined the spread of Japanese restaurant, where main dishes are represented by preparations of raw fish such as sushi and sashimi. Therefore, it is evident that the adequate training of personnel for a proper “Anisakis” risk management is of fundamental importance in this specific catering sector.

Regulations

In Europe, the first regulatory references on the presence of parasites of the genus Anisakis were issued by the Dutch Health Authorities in the years 1968/69 concerning the marketing of herring. However, it was only around the ‘80s that a concrete sanitary management of the Anisakis problem was realized in France and in the Netherlands, where the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries had set up specific rules for the processing of herring. In Italy, the first specific legislation on Anisakis was issued during the same period, when the presence of this parasite strikingly emerged in fishery products, and in particular in oily fish. The Ministry of Health issued the Circular no. 10/11 03/1992, and the Ministerial Order of 12/05/1992, in order to draw the attention of industry professionals, consumers and health authorities on this emerging zoonosis. With the entry into force of the “Hygiene Package”, the sanitary controls of fishery products become completely different compared to those carried out in the mid-nineties. The new rules have led to a radical change in the system of parasites control: for example, at the fish market the figure of the official veterinarian, who was in charge of visual inspection and sampling of the fish, disappears, giving way to the Food Business Operators (FBOs) that became the primary responsible for their product. This transposition of tasks, if by one side has streamlined practices and health checks of the competent authorities, on the other hand implies the correct training of those responsible for food, in order to ensure the healthiness and quality of products they manipulate.

Sushi and sashimi

Sushi and sashimi, which are the most characteristic and popular foods of Japanese cuisine, are without doubt among the principal “ethnic” dishes of the third millennium culinary trends. As a consequence, and considering also the interest of consumers for “lightly preserved” fish products, even the “national fish cookbook” is revisiting typical dishes such as carpaccio of raw fish and fish tartare. Unfortunately, the tendency to gradually reduce the intensity of technological treatments with the aim of preserving the freshness of seafood, clashes with the proper and safe storage of these products over time. Therefore, the correct knowledge of sanitation problems associated with seafood is fundamental for their proper management, especially if they are consumed raw or almost raw. In addition, for all products sold as ready to eat, such as sushi and sashimi, the species of fish used as raw materials is difficult to trace on the basis of morphological characteristics. Hence the need to use specific laboratory techniques, based on molecular methods, which can support the work of health authorities and may become a warranty for the consumers. In fact, the ability to identify the species of fish, protects consumers not only from food frauds, but also from potential health risks in case of replacement with toxic species. Finally, in light of the regulatory changes introduced by the “Hygiene Package” and the new responsibilities of FBOs, a proper training of all personnel involved in the preparation of raw fish product is essential in order to reduce the “Anisakis” risk to an acceptable level.

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PUBLICATION

Armani, A. D’Amico, P., Cianti, L., Pistolesi, M., Susini, F., Guarducci, M., & Alessandra, G. (2017). Assessment of food business operator training on parasitological risk management in sushi restaurants: a local survey in Florence, Italy. Journal of Environmental Health, 80(2), E1.

Guardone L., NuceraD., Lodola L.B., Tinacci L., Acutis P.L., Guidi A., Armani A. (2018). Anisakis spp. larvae in different kinds of ready to eat products made of anchovies (Engraulis encrasicolus) sold in Italian supermarkets. International Journal of Food Microbiology, 268, pp 10-18. Free avaiable here until 20th February 2018

L. Guardone, D. Nucera, V. Pergola, F. Costanzo, E. Costa, L. Tinacci, A. Guidi, A. Armani (2017). Visceral larvae as a predictive index of the overall level of fish batch infection in European anchovies (Engraulis encrasicolus): A rapid procedure for Food Business Operators to assess marketability. International Journal of Food Microbiology, 250 pp 12-18

L. Guardone, R. Malandra, F. Costanzo, L. Castigliego, L. Tinacci, D. Gianfaldoni, A. Guidi, A. Armani (2015). Assessment of a Sampling Plan Based on Visual Inspection for the Detection of Anisakid Larvae in Fresh Anchovies (Engraulis encrasicolus). A First Step Towards Official Validation?. Food Anal. Methods, 9(5), pp 1418–1427

D’Amico P., Malandra R., Costanzo F., Castigliego L., Guidi A., Gianfaldoni D., Armani A. (2014). Evolution of the Anisakis risk management in the European and Italian context. Food Research International, pp 348–362.

Armani A. (2012) Indagine sulle buone pratiche di gestione nella preparazione di prodotti a base di pesce crudo. Tesi di Specializzazione in Ispezione degli Alimenti di Origine Animale, Università di Pisa [Tesi]

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(Italiano) Report Oceana 2016

(Italiano) Report Oceana 2016

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