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Authentication of fish as fresh or frozenthawed is compulsory because of the widespread fraudulent practice of retailing fish products as fresh, when they have actually been frozen. Moreover, according to EC Regulations 853/2004 and 1276/2011, fish intended for raw consumption has to be deepfrozen before usage, to protect consumers against Anisakiasis. In this study, a food business operator set an example of good quality control by collaborating with health authorities and an official laboratory in charge of food control, to evaluate the feasibility of a further integrated regional plan on fish safety. Furthermore, differences in microscopic patterns related to freezing time complying (24 h) and not complying (12 h) with legislation in force were evaluated. Ten samples obtained from red and white-meat fish, and based on real production of the food business, were identified to evaluate the histological method performance in correctly classifying fish as fresh/frozen as well as the microbiological and chemical safety issues possibly related to fishery products. For two samples, species identification was needed. Based on the histological method, one out of ten fish was not fresh, though the supplier claimed all fish to be fresh; the others, after freezing, could be characterised microscopically as frozen and a borderline P-value was found between different freezing times. Microbiological parameters and species identification resulted compliant, while flesh from a tuna fish (Euthynnus alletteratus) contained mercury residues three times higher than the legally permitted level. Our results highlight the reliability of an integrated approach to control fishery products frauds.
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