Indirect Determination Of Seafood Freshness

Seafood freshness may be indirectly determined by chemically analyzing a sample to determine the concentration of a specific chemical(s) within the sample or by measuring the magnitude of one or more physical parameters (eg, color, distance, force) of a sample. This observed concentration of a chemical or magnitude of a physical parameter is used to indirectly measure (predict) the level of a specific sensory attribute, which allows for the immediate determination of the freshness once the predicted level of the sensory attribute is compared to that specified in the appropriate product standards. Because the measurement of chemical concentrations and physical magnitudes are often very precise (exact), these types of methods have often been considered to be objective methods and therefore superior (because they are less variable) to methods involving sensory evaluation (13-15), which have often been referred to as subjective methods. It is very important to realize that just because the results of these objective methods of determining seafood freshness may be less variable does not necessarily mean the results are thereby more accurate (16). The tremendous practical importance of understanding the difference between results that are precise and results that are accurate is clearly demonstrated by this example: "The archer or marksman may group shots close together, thus being precise, but the shots may be at the rim of the target instead of at the bull's-eye, thus being inaccurate."

Depending on the circumstances, objective chemical and physical methods may be very useful, but only if scientifically sound studies have definitely revealed that a close relationship between the results of the specific chemical or physical method and objective sensory evaluation methods does indeed exist. The results proving such a close relationship apply only to the conditions (method of catching and handling, time of season during which the seafood was harvested, species being examined, specified chemical/physical method, specified sensory evaluation method, etc) under which the investigation was conducted. Altering only one of these conditions may alter the relationship to such a degree that the close relationship may no longer apply, causing the estimated level of the sensory attribute to be of questionable value. Also during these investigations, the sensory evaluations must have been conducted using scientifically sound procedures. Whenever a chemical or physical method has met these requirements, it can be extremely useful. For additional information concerning chemical and/or physical methods of determining seafood freshness, see references 17-23.

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