Smart solution to detect seafood spoilage

Existing methods for detecting seafood spoilage are far from satisfactory for ensuring food safety and security. To solve this problem, Flinders University researchers have constructed and tested a solid-state fluorescent sensor loaded on filter papers that can instantly and accurately measure the rate of spoilage in Atlantic salmon – and can easily be applied to other seafood.

Importantly, Flinders University’s Professor of Aquaculture Jian Qin – who led the study with Flinders colleague Professor Youhong Tang ­- says this simple device could become commercially viable and enable a “real-time” monitoring of spoilage in seafood to ensure food safety for consumers.

The first author of this publication was Professor Yonghua Jiang, a visiting scholar from Jimei University, China. She estimates that this device can be a major cost saver for the seafood industry and retailers, as spoilage accounts for at least 10% of all seafood production.

The core of the new spoilage analysis technology is understanding that biogenic amines play an important physiological function of living cells, but a high level of biogenic amines in seafood has an adverse impact on human health and can cause food poisoning.

Therefore, biogenic amines have become important indicators for the evaluation of food freshness and edibility – and reading these amines can be done by a simple and cost-effective method using the filter papers loaded with an AIEgen, such as dihydroquinoxaline derivative (H + DQ2), to monitor salmon spoilage.

The research found that as spoilage in the salmon samples increased, triggering more amine vapours, so too did the intensity of the readings on the treated filter papers.

Results from the study – Semi-quantitative Evaluation of Seafood Spoilage Using Filter-paper Strips Loaded With an Aggregation-induced Emission Luminoge, by Yonghua Jiang, Zhaowei Zhong, Weixin Ou, Haoming Shi, Parvej Alam, Ben Zhong Tang, Jian Qin and Youhong Tang – have been published in the journal Food Chemistry (DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2020.127056)

“This study provides a quick and simple way for testing amine vapour from fish and provides baseline information for developing an easy-to-use, on-site method to evaluate seafood quality for customers,” says Professor of Materials Engineering Youhong Tang, from Flinders University’s Institute of NanoScale Science and Technology and Medical Device Research Institute.

The research team will now do further optimisation tests on the paper strips and the AIEgen loading, to provide a more robust solution for daily usage towards commercial applications.

The team also wants to allign the AIEgen loaded paper strips with smartphone apps to transfer information for quantitative evaluation.

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