Something's fishy with Australia imports


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
January 16, 2013

Foreign fish imports are causing concerns with the national food regulator warning that a lot of seafood is being treated with carbon monoxide to make it appear fresh.

The gas gives the impression that the fish is fresh when it actually isn't.

According to Food Standards Australia New Zealand fresh and frozen fish is being imported into Australia from Asia with an undisclosed foreign ingredient — carbon monoxide.

"It's treated with a gas from a cylinder and then it's wrapped, quite often frozen and imported to Australia," spokesperson for Food Standards Australia New Zealand, Lorraine Belanger said.

Chances are you've unknowingly eaten fish treated with the chemical, which makes it look fresher than it really is.

"This has the potential to mislead some consumers because the fish might be older than it is implied by its color," Belanger said.

100 metric tons of tuna treated with carbon monoxide are imported each month from Southeast Asia — it's currently perfectly legal but that could soon change.

In 1995 the European Union banned carbon monoxide and now Food Standards Australia New Zealand wants to follow suit. They're preparing a report which aims to ban the import of fish which is processed using the so called 'flushing method.'

"Chemical changes can occur in the fish that might create a food safety issue," Belanger said.

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