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n the last few years, the consumption of fish eggs has increased rapidly, finding widespread use also in mass catering. This increase has involved also those of the Peter’s fish (Zeus faber). Females of this species, by their reproductive characteristics, have highly developed gonads in different periods of the year, making the raw material easy to find. The aim of the present study was to perform a quality assessment of Zeus faber ovaries regularly commercialized for human consumption. A total number of 34 samples, divided in fresh (11) and frozen (23), were processed for microbiological characterization, parasitological and histological evaluations. Fresh and frozen samples have significant (P<0.01) differences in total bacterial charge, with values of 4.75±0.5 Log CFU/g and 3.65±0.7 Log CFU/g respectively. The mean value of Enterobacteriaceae was 2.58±0.7 Log CFU/g in fresh products, while 52.17% (12) of frozen samples reported loads of <1 Log CFU/g. No Salmonella spp. and Listeria monocytogenes were found. Aeromonas spp. was detected in two frozen sample (with loads of 2.2 and <1 Log CFU/g) and in 5 fresh ovaries with value ranged from 1.70 to 3.48 Log CFU/g. Vibrio spp. was found in 4 (36.36%) and 3 (13.04%) of fresh and frozen samples respectively, with loads always <1 Log CFU/g. All 31 Vibrio strains isolated, were identified as Vibrio alginolyticus, and 61.29% (19) of them was positive for the ToxRS factor and 6.45% (2) for ToxR. The 47.06% (16) of total samples showed infestations by larvae of Anisakis Type 1 in the serous and inside the ovary. In this last case, histologically it was found to be free larvae. This study attested satisfactory hygiene conditions for Zeus faber ovaries currently marked for human consumption. The presence of potentially pathogenic strains of V. alginolyticus and Aeromonas spp., but above all the frequent infestation by Anisakis larvae, represent a potentially hazard for the consumer.
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