Scientific and technical assistance on the evaluation of the temperature to be applied to pre-packed fishery products at retail level
Relevant hazards associated with pre-packed fresh fishery products were identified through a literature search. The main temperature-dependent hazards identified are histamine formation, Listeria monocytogenes, Clostridium botulinum, and Yersinia enterocolitica. To assess bacterial growth and histamine production during storage and transport at retail level and to evaluate different storage scenarios, published predictive microbiology growth models were used assuming favourable growth conditions. Compliance with the legislative temperature requirement can only be assessed by translating the requirement into an objective measure, which, in this instance, is assumed to be 0 °C. Any assessment of temperature and its effect on histamine production or bacterial growth can be meaningful only in the context of a time period. The modelling results showed that packaged fresh fishery products can be stored at refrigeration temperatures above 0 °C (e.g. 3–5 °C) and be compliant with the current EU and international rules. For histamine, the modelling results showed that, for a fishery product with certain characteristics subject to the current temperature requirement, histamine formation would be 100 ppm (lower limit m of the safety criterion in EU Regulation (EC) No 2073/2005) at the end of its shelf-life. Thus, an equivalent condition to the above baseline scenario is any combination of storage temperature, shelf-life and CO2 concentration in the package that leads to histamine formation of 100 ppm at the end of shelf-life. For example, for a retail temperature of 3 °C, 100 ppm would be reached under the following conditions: (1) shelf-life of 6 days and 0 % CO2 in the packaging headspace, (2) shelf-life of 7 days and 20 % CO2 in the packaging headspace or (3) shelf-life of 8 days and 40 % CO2 in the packaging headspace. Similar estimates are provided for the other hazards identified.