Certain parasites, microorganisms and contaminants are of great importance with respect to the quality and safety of seafood products from wild-catch fisheries. Norway, as one of the largest fish-exporting countries is obliged to ensure and maintain the highest possible quality and food safety standards. In order to comply with this obligation, NIFES regularly investigates the parasitological and microbiological status, both in terms of quality parameters and the possible presence of microbial pathogens, among the commercially most important fish species caught by the Norwegian fishing fleet and intended for human consumption. The investigations are organized as a national surveillance program. The activities are largely carried out on board regular commercial fishing vessels in order to reflect authentic capture and storage conditions.
The primary objective of the surveillance program is to obtain basic epidemiological data with respect to the occurrence of parasites and microorganisms, with special emphasis on parasitic nematodes (Anisakis) and the soft flesh-inducing parasite Kudoa, along with potentially human pathogenic bacteria such as Listeria monocytogenes, in various commercially important fish species for the Norwegian fishery industry. The data enable us to detect any temporal or spatial changes or trends in the epidemiology of the above biohazards, which in turn will form the basis for our advice to both food safety authorities and the fishery industry. To further examine the bacterial contamination of fish through nematode infections, nematodes are aseptically collected from different species to identify the bacterial flora of the nematodes. A NGS-platform will be applied. The work with a whole chain surveillance of the microbiology during catch and production of pelagic species, will start in 2017. At first, sampling during delivering and processing of North Sea- and Norwegian spring spawning herring will be in focus. Moreover, the various cruises to be carried out, will also provide additional samples for follow-up studies on various contaminants in the actual fish species.