Saturday, April 13, 2024

Fish spoilage: Enzymatic autolysis

Fish spoilage is a significant concern in the seafood industry, primarily driven by three fundamental mechanisms: enzymatic autolysis, oxidation, and microbial growth. Among these, enzymatic autolysis, driven by the activities of the fish's own enzymes, stands out as a principal contributor to the deterioration of fish quality.

Enzymatic autolysis in fish is accelerated compared to meat due to the presence of numerous enzymes that remain active postmortem. Phosphorylases, lipases, cathepsins, and gut enzymes are among the key players in this process. Rigor mortis, a natural consequence of death in fish, triggers a cascade of chemical changes in muscle tissue, leading to muscle softening and eventual breakdown of proteins by autolytic enzymes.

While enzymatic spoilage may not immediately produce off-odors or off-flavors, it significantly impacts the textural quality of fish during the early stages of deterioration. Even at low levels of spoilage organisms, enzymatic action can reduce shelf-life and compromise product quality. Notably, enzymatic degradation can manifest as "belly bursting," a phenomenon resulting from the action of digestive enzymes present in the fish's gut.

Proteolysis, a consequence of improper storage of whole fish, leads to the degradation of proteins and subsequent solubilization. Moreover, autolysis of fish muscle proteins yields peptides and free amino acids, providing substrates for microbial growth and the production of biogenic amines, further accelerating spoilage.

To combat enzymatic autolysis and preserve fish quality, various storage techniques and interventions are employed in the industry. Low-temperature storage inhibits enzymatic activity and microbial growth, while chemical methods control water activity and mitigate enzymatic, oxidative, and microbial spoilage.

In conclusion, understanding enzymatic autolysis is crucial for mitigating fish spoilage and maintaining product quality in the seafood industry. By employing effective storage techniques and interventions, we can prolong the shelf-life of fish products and ensure consumer satisfaction.
Understanding Fish Spoilage: Enzymatic Autolysis and Its Impact

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