Researchers at Norwegian research institute Nofima have adapted a spectroscopic technology -- which is already used in commercially in the fishing industry to assess whitefish and salmon fillet quality -- to detect roundworms, or nematodes, in whitefish fillets.
The new technology allows for both the detection and removal of roundworm or nematodes.
While there are no serious health hazards linked to the worm, the issue is important for the seafood industry because nematodes impact the quality of seafood products and their value at the consumer level.
Nematodes is the common term for types of roundworm parasites that can be found in wild fish. Nematodes usually attach themselves to the intestines of fish, entering the intestines through what the fish has been eating. Occasionally, they also make their way into the flesh of fish, and if consumed through unprocessed fish by humans, the worms can pose a certain health hazard in the form of abdominal pain and nausea. Roundworms die when the fish is fried, poached, dried, heavily salted or frozen.
The so-called Maritech Eye quality measurement technology has been developed by Nofima together with Norwegian software group Maritech and electro-optics research company Norsk Elektro Optikk.
The solution has been tested at Portuguese fish producer MareDeus, and retail chain Mercadona was also involved in the testing.
“We are talking about a small worm that we really don’t want to find in our food," Nofima senior scientist Karsten Heia said.
"So the fishing industry is very interested in technology that is able to detect and remove roundworms before the product that is sent to the consumer."
The technology uses deep learning -- the programming of artificial intelligence -- to extract information about the roundworms from light signals.
The technology can also be applied to detect worms in other species.
Nofima researchers created a new system for spotting round worms in fish fillets with high precision in 2010, but the system was not previously adapted by the industry.