The aim of the focus action "Microbiology, mercury, phosphates and carbonates in marine fish" was an examination of the fitness for human consumption, safety and composition of marine fish.
102 samples from all over Austria were examined. 14 samples were rejected:
- Five samples due to hygiene deficiencies.
- The mercury content was too high in three samples
- Four samples contained non-permitted additives
- Two samples were poorly labeled (additive used or addition of water not declared, protein content indicated too high)
Fish is very sensitive in terms of hygiene. An increased occurrence of certain bacteria and an increased content of basic nitrogen, a degradation product of protein, are indications of advanced spoilage of the product. In predatory fish such as swordfish, shark and tuna, the accumulation of the heavy metal mercury is a problem. Therefore, maximum levels of mercury are set for fish. With the help of permitted additives (e.g. phosphate), but also with additives that are not permitted for this application (e.g. nitrate, carbonate), extraneous water is bound in fish flesh - this gives the fish a fresh appearance, although it is no longer so fresh.