Fish And Shellfish Microbiology

Humans consume over 1,000 species offish and shellfish that grow in diverse habitats and geographic regions all over the world (1). These fish and shellfish carry a variety of microorganisms from both aquatic and terrestrial sources. The high levels of moisture, rich nutrients, including free amino acids, other extractable nitrogenous compounds, digestible proteins, and psychrophiles, render seafood easily perishable, often spoiling in a short period of time even under refrigeration. In addition to spoilage microorganisms, seafood may contain various potential pathogens that can threaten the public health.

It is often difficult to maintain the quality of seafood products because there is a considerable distance between consumers and the harvesting areas, which provides opportunities for microbial growth and recontamination. To process fish and shellfish into stable products, low temperature, heat, curing, fermentation, and irradiation can be applied. This article covers the quantitative and qualitative aspects of microorganisms found in fish and shellfish and the factors affecting seafood quality. Organisms involved during the seafood processing are also described and discussed. Emphases are placed on spoilage bacteria, which cause the degradation of products and organisms that present risks to the public health.

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