Microbiological and chemical safety concerns regarding frozen fillets obtained from Pangasius sutchi and Nile tilapia exported to European countries

J Sci Food Agric. 2016 Mar 15;96(4):1373-9. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.7233. Epub 2015 Jun 15.


Background: Microbiological and chemical safety concerns regarding frozen fillets from pangasius catfish (Pangasius hypophthalmus) exported to Poland, Germany and Ukraine and Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) exported to Poland and Germany were investigated by analyzing heavy metal residues, microbiological hazards, biogenic amines, and thiobarbituric acid (TBA) and total volatile basic nitrogen (TVB-N) content.

Results: The heavy metal residues from all studied samples were far lower than the limits established by authorities. The most abundant biogenic amine found was histamine, with a maximum content of 9.6 mg 100 g(-1) , found in pangasius exported to Poland. The total viable counts were from 2.8 log cfu g(-1) in pangasius exported to Ukraine to 4.3 log cfu g(-1) in pangasius exported to Germany. Vibrio spp. were present in 70-80% of all studied pangasius groups, whereas there no Vibrio spp. were found in the studied tilapia samples. 30% of Pangasius fillets exported to Poland were contaminated with coagulase-positive staphylococci. No E. coli was found in any of the studied samples. Although the results of TBA analysis differed significantly between studied groups, the malonic aldehyde content in all studied groups was still very low. The TVB-N content in frozen fillets from pangasius was significantly lower than in frozen tilapia fillets.

Conclusions: We reported that pangasius catfish frozen fillets were widely contaminated with Vibrio spp., which could prove hazardous for the final consumer if the fish is eaten raw or undercooked. The rest of the analysis showed no other reason for concern associated with Nile tilapia and Pangasius catfish frozen fillet consumption.

Keywords: biogenic amines; heavy metals; microbiological analysis; pangasius, tilapia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biogenic Amines / analysis
  • Catfishes*
  • Cichlids*
  • Food Contamination / analysis*
  • Food Microbiology*
  • Food Safety
  • Frozen Foods
  • Germany
  • Meat / analysis*
  • Meat / microbiology*
  • Metals, Heavy / analysis
  • Nitrogen / analysis
  • Poland
  • Thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substances / analysis
  • Ukraine
  • Vibrio / isolation & purification


  • Biogenic Amines
  • Metals, Heavy
  • Thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substances
  • Nitrogen