How to check the quality of edible seaweed?
Food quality is a crucial metric for establishing if food is safe for consumption by the end consumer. A recent study conducted by the Agricultural University of Athens was published in Sensors Journals and illustrates how innovative technologies – multispectral imaging, FT-IR, and e-nose – can assist with the quality assessment of edible seaweed.
Why is it important to assess the quality of edible seaweed?
Historically seaweed was mainly used as an ingredient for medicine, however, in recent years the popularity and mass consumption of marine algae has risen. The sea vegetable is full of macro-, micro-nutrients, and minerals that are crucial for the human diet. The rise in its consumption resulted in the growing number of seaweed farming, making it one of the fastest growing sectors in the food industry.
As a fresh sea product, edible seaweed quickly deteriorates in its quality because of, for example, microbial growth. As the sector is relatively new, there is a lack of rapid, non-destructive tests to ensure food safety for the end consumer. Furthermore, quality assessment can aid in better resource planning – harvesting, storage, and processing.
The recent study conducted by researchers from the Agricultural University of Athens investigated various technologies to assess microbial growth rate in collected batches of edible seaweed.
Microbiological analysis of edible seaweed
To ensure the reliability and repeatability of the study, various edible seaweed (A. esculenta) samples were collected from Scotland and Ireland. The variety of the batches included different harvest times, storage temperatures, and time intervals.
The aim of the study was to develop rapid analytical methods to avoid food spoilage, as well as to ensure microbiological quality with a microbial count of the marine algae. Three different methods and their combinations were established to inspect several ways of assessing total viable counts (TVC).
The VideometerLab was chosen as an instrument for multispectral imaging, 18 different wavelengths ranging from 405 to 970 nm were able to distinguish between batches of edible seaweed. The analysis was completed using various tools, such as segmentation builder from the Videometer Software toolbox. The results have shown how harvest time and storage of the sample have an impact on microbial growth.
Conclusions of edible seaweed quality study
The microbiological results illustrate how various methods can aid in the prevention of food spoilage. To extend the product’s shelf life it is important to optimize the handling and storage of seaweed to minimize the growth of unwanted bacteria.
The researchers concluded that the model developed with the VideometerLab has a relatively good [prediction] performance.