Initially, additives were mainly attributed to the illicit use of carbon monoxide, then attention was paid to nitrites and nitrates. Non-permitted and undeclared additives are not only illegal but represent a critical issue that strongly disturbs the market for producers of slices of both yellowfin tuna and natural bluefin tuna.
THE CONSUMER, FOR YEARS USED TO THIS TYPE OF “MODIFIED” PRODUCT, IS PRACTICALLY NO LONGER ABLE TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN THE TREATED AND THE NATURAL PRODUCT AND OFTEN PREFERS THE TREATED PRODUCT BECAUSE IT APPEARS MORE BEAUTIFUL AT AESTHETIC LEVEL DUE TO THE TYPE OF COLOR
Operational provisions should be issued, such as for example a monitoring plan and verification by the bodies responsible for official control in order to regulate the sector and the development of laboratory methods and standards for the research and determination of nitrates and nitrites in meat fish, especially bluefin tuna. Some manufacturers include the wording “red turnip juice” on the label (which is not the “red” beetroot additive that can only be used in fish and shellfish paste). These ingredients are actually used, in the opinion of some experts, above all to hide the addition of nitrites and nitrates. The problem is that this information has been tolerated for years. If, as regards products with monoxide additives, there is no direct health risk for the consumer and a direct relationship between monoxide additives and the presence or development of histamine has not even been demonstrated, as regards products treated with nitrites and nitrates instead the situation is different. Sodium nitrate (E251) and potassium nitrate (E252), substances well known and widely used in the meat products sector, particularly in cured meats, are also used in foods based on fish products, limited to herring and pickled sprats. The toxicity has been demonstrated, due to the formation of carcinogenic substances. However, the very low price and the long life of the product have had the upper hand to the detriment of transparency, hygienic-sanitary safety and the intrinsic quality of the product.