ICBAS - Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar

Welfare, quality and safety of fish

Seafood is one of the food groups whose consumption is most encouraged by current nutritionists, as a result of its recognized benefits to human health. As a food of the future, in addition to sustainability, it is important to improve the methods for evaluating its quality and food safety.

The ongoing research at the Laboratory of Fish Technology of the Department of Aquatic Production of ICBAS focuses mainly on the development of new sensory, chemical and microbiological methods to assess the freshness of fish and identify its origin and authenticity. Measures to assess and improve animal welfare in aquaculture and the management and use of waste from their production are also research areas.

In sensory analysis, new tables under the 'Quality Index Method' have been created, for several aquatic species with relevance in Portugal.

In the area of chemistry, work was carried out for the nutritional and toxicological characterization (16 different elements) of species at the top of the food chain, presumably more problematic.

In microbiology, studies have been made to characterize the fish microflora, as well as the development of new microbiological techniques for characterization and identification of the origin of aquaculture species.

Waste management studies have been focused on the identification of sources, characterization of waste and its use as ingredient in feeds for animals, especially from aquaculture.

The work has also included the characterization of animal welfare in aquaculture fish, especially slaughter methods and improvement of their efficiency.

In the area of certification, a list of international systems for the certification of aquatic products and the main products was made, and technical support has been given to seafood companies in the creation of this type of systems for Portuguese products.

A balanced and healthy environment will support the growth of healthy aquatic beings, which will be adequate food items, providing health to animals and humans, confirming the modern vision of One Health we all want for our future world.

To know more:

Quality Index Method for fish quality control: understanding the applications, the appointed limits and the upcoming trends

Multi-elemental composition of white and dark muscles in swordfish

Contact: Professor Paulo Vaz-Pires (vazpires@icbas.up.pt)


Sustainable aquaculture and functional diets for fish

Aquaculture is the fastest-growing global animal production sector, already contributing to more than 50% of the fish consumed worldwide. This growth will continue due to limitations in the capture of wild species and the increase in world population and consequent increase in demand.

Portugal already imports about 2/3 of the fish it consumes, which represents an imbalance in the trade balance of over €600 million/year. This imbalance can only be overcome through the sustained and sustainable development of aquaculture. In this sense, the European vision for the Sustainable Development of Aquaculture emerges, based on the promotion of competitiveness through innovative, environmentally sustainable methodologies, considering animal welfare and health, and the consumer's perspective.

In Portugal, as well as in Europe, essentially marine and mostly carnivorous species are produced. In the national territory, the main ones are turbot, sea bream, trout, sea bass and sole. The production of these species implies knowing the nutritional requirements of each one of them to ensure excellent growth, optimizing animal health and well-being.

The existing diets on the market are particularly designed for each species and these formulations follow well-defined and regulated rules. The entire process is tracked to ensure consumer safety. Likewise, the nutritional value of each fish depends on these diets, being important to ensure that they meet the highest quality requirements.

The CIIMAR Fish Nutrition, Growth and Quality Laboratory, led by an ICBAS Professor, works to optimize and evaluate sustainable production practices in aquaculture and improve the quality, safety and well-being of fish. It also prepares functional diets for these animals, designed to promote their health and nutritional value, to respond to the growing demands of the consumer.


To know more:

- Fish Nutrition and Feeding
- Increased growth and immune response of European sea bass through diet
- Change in lipid metabolism and oxidative stress of rainbow trout through diet

Contact: Professor Luísa Valente (lvalente@icbas.up.pt)

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