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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Volume IV - 8.1 Introduction

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Orientation and Training

Food and Drug Administration


Section 8 - Sensory Analysis

EFFECTIVE DATE: 10-01-03REVISED: 02-14-13

Sensory analysis of seafood is a critical tool used by FDA to protect consumers from seafood that has become adulterated due to decomposition. To stand up in court; the integrity of the sensory program depends on the credibility of the sensory analysts and the manner in which the analyses are conducted, reported, and interpreted for regulatory purposes. 

It takes many years of experience, with daily involvement, to properly recognize spoilage odors and flavors in seafood products and, more importantly, to avoid rejecting products due to odors and flavors that may be present but are not caused by decomposition. Incorrect decisions by FDA can be extremely costly to the importer/owner of rejected product and failing to detect adulterated product is costly to consumers. 

Section 402 (a)(3) of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act states that a food is deemed to be adulterated if it consists in whole or in part of any filthy, putrid, or decomposed substance. It is this section of the Act that lends itself to the findings of the sensory analyst.

The primary focus of this section is to expose the analyst to sensory techniques and the evaluation of a variety of seafood products. Both actual and authentic samples (whose stages of decomposition are defined) are used.