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Fresh fish causes confusion

NORWAY - Many consumers think it's difficult to judge the quality of fresh fish. According to a study by Fiskeriforskning, consumers often don't know what characteristics they should look for to assess how fresh the fish is.

Fresh fish causes confusion - NORWAY - Many consumers think it's difficult to judge the quality of fresh fish. According to a study by Fiskeriforskning, consumers often don't know what characteristics they should look for to assess how fresh the fish is.

In the test, 45 consumers assessed tray-packed fillet products of salmon and cod, they way they're found in the grocery shops. The assessments were done six times, from when the fish was two days old until it was 14 days old. For the assessments, the plastic film over the fish was removed such that the participants could also smell the fillets.

Very different perceptions

Fiskeriforskning's study shows that the consumers had very different perceptions about the quality. Some judged the products as inedible when they were only two days old.

For most people in Norway, it's not possible to buy such fresh fish. The test also showed that other consumers assessed the same fish as very good even after 12 days' storage.

Difficult area

The results show that the average assessment corresponds well with the results from the technical measurements. But the strongly contradictory assessments show that fresh fish is a difficult area for many.

"The experiences from the test show that many consumers don't know what kind of criteria they should use to assess the quality of a fish fillet", says Senior Scientist Margrethe Esaiassen who, together with Scientists Sjurdur Joensen and Jens stli, is responsible for the test.

Should be flawless

Earlier research shows that consumers who don't know how they should assess a product's quality bring in other conditions of the product when they assess it.

"When the consumers are unsure, they can base their choices on conditions that really have nothing to do with freshness", stli points out.

For example, the fish pieces in the packages can be of different size and there may be colour shades between the pieces. The consumers can also vote down the product because it has blood stains, bone remnants or scales from the fish.

"Precisely because the consumers are unsure, it becomes essential that the product stands out as flawless. It can be decisive for whether they buy fish or choose other foods", says Margrethe Esaiassen.

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