Fish products marketed as ‘fresh’ at seafood shops and sushi restaurants across Australia, the Philippines and other parts of the world may be years old and pumped full of deadly carbon monoxide gas.
The treatment process, most commonly used means Australians could be eating fish that was caught two years earlier.
Carbon monoxide ━ an odourless and tasteless gas ━ preserves tuna cuts and helps maintain its bright pink appearance when it would have naturally turned a darker colour which is usually brown.
A ‘gas injection machine’ is the culprit. After being placed in the machine, dark tuna steaks turn red in colour as if ‘fresh’ and newly caught. This was shown in a video inside a Vietnamese fish processing plant.
When the process is complete, the bright pink cuts are placed into plastic packaging and shipped overseas.
Under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, it is illegal for suppliers to use gas to change the colour of fish and export them to either country.
But the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources told Daily Mail Australia there was proof the code has been breached.
‘There is evidence that imports of tuna are being treated with carbon monoxide to fix the colour of the flesh,’ a spokesman said, outlining the department’s plan to fight the issue.
‘The department is proposing to actively enforce this prohibition at the border. An Imported Food Notice was issued last month detailing new inspection and testing requirements for imported tuna.’
Concerns over the practice has been raised and the Department of Agriculture said consumers may be tricked into buying fish made to appear fresher than it is.’
‘The department is considering commencement of a range of surveillance activities to confirm these allegations and determine the extent of carbon monoxide use during fish processing operations.’
But there is a glaring exemption in the prohibition of the use of carbon monoxide that lobby groups have described as a ‘loophole’.
When the gas is present in fish because of smoke used in processing, it does not breach the rules.
‘Carbon monoxide is permitted to be used as a processing aid in the course of manufacture of any food except if used to fix or alter the colour of the flesh of fish,’ an Australia New Zealand Food Standards spokesman told Daily Mail Australia.
‘This prohibition does not extend to carbon monoxide that is naturally occurring or naturally present in smoke, which may include carbon monoxide present in odourless flavourless smoke.’
The spokesman insisted there was no cause for concern if the gas was present because of the smoking process.
‘There is currently no evidence of a food safety concern with the use of smoking, including the use of odourless flavourless smoke, to process fish,’ they said. (Source: Daily Mail)