How to detect authentic bluefin tuna and avoid the most coveted blue fish fraud

The bluefin tuna ( Thunnus thynnus ) is a coveted and appreciated fish in gastronomy ; surely because many recipes can be made, it can be consumed in canned, grilled, raw …

In addition, we can find a thousand recipes and you can take advantage of almost everything, from the nose to the fin , and there are those who are experimenting with their blood. So bluefin tuna is one of the most consumed blue fish. There are also versions for vegans, such as the Ahimi, an invention made with tomatoes that wants to imitate the texture of tuna.

How is your meat?

It is a fatty fish – almost 12% of its meat is fat – and has a high content of omega 3 that lowers cholesterol levels. Its meat is of great quality; smooth and juicy , proof of the number of kilometers the animal has had to travel from its place of residence to the area chosen for spawning, in our case, the Mediterranean.

Tuna from Almadraba

The tradition of tuna fishing in our coasts has in the Almadraba its greatest exponent. It is about marine labyrinths created by the Phoenicians where the tunas that enter through Gibraltar to the Balearics, Sicily and Cyprus are trapped. There is carried out, between the months of May and June, the so-called “levantá”, a practice that now only takes place in Barbate, Zahara de los Atunes, Conil, Tarifa and Ceuta.

As soon as they catch it, they ‘ronquean’ (process of the cutting of the tuna) and freeze it in a deep-freezing tunnel at 60 degrees below zero. This means that when the tuna is thawed to work, whatever the time of the year, it has exactly the same characteristics and quality as at the time of its capture.

What does Barbate’s bluefin tuna eat?

Barbate’s trap is capturing wild bluefin tuna with traditional and sustainable art , keeping it for several months in net cages for its late commercialization. At that time, the tuna is fattened with a natural diet based on mackerel sardines and herring, mainly.

This natural food depends on the availability of the market and priority is given to the species from the markets of Barbate and surroundings. The species supplied make up a varied diet that covers the nutritional requirements of bluefin tuna . The amount ingested is also variable, since during that period the tunas do not demand a fixed daily amount of food. That is why an ‘ad libtum’ or satiety diet is performed.

The fraud

So that the tuna retains all its characteristics, in Almadraba they freeze it to -60º and keep it at -20º, which causes the texture to remain but the color begins to vary. The red color characteristic of the Almadraba tuna is turning into a more brown tone.

There are those who practice fraud in front of this tuna of the highest quality. Chicken blood, a bath of beet or coloring , are measures taken by some suppliers, deceiving the consumer to simulate the appearance of authentic tuna.

How to detect fraud?

Detecting fraud for consumers is much more difficult than for providers. The first ones can be fixed in the color of bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna. The tuna injected is deep red, electric. The color of the authentic tuna of the Almadraba is uniform and with a more brown tone than red after freezing.

The suppliers will have to fix on the label where the capture method will appear, the date of capture, the freezing, if it is a previously frozen product and other reference characteristics.

The most important document that guarantees that bluefin tuna has been captured and marketed legally is the Tuna Catch Document (DCA) , which must be available throughout the commercial chain, fishmongers and restaurants.

Recent poisoning by fraudulent bluefin tuna

The Ministry of Health has confirmed in recent months the poisoning in Spain of people and in other European countries for consuming Spanish tuna in poor conditions. In 2017, 154 people were poisoned in Spain.

The Spanish Agency of Consumption, Food Safety and Nutrition (Aecosan) reported that throughout 2017 it has managed 15 alerts for the presence of high concentrations of histamine in tuna.

The fraudulent use of vegetable substances that color the tuna red to make it look fresher is also related to the presence of histamine in high quantities, a substance that is already found in fish in which bacteria have grown due to poor conservation. .

Recipes with bluefin tuna

We already said that bluefin tuna admits many preparations . Traditionally they have cooked their onions onions , with tomato or, in the north, in the renowned Marmitako. With the rise of Japanese cuisine, there are more and more establishments that prepare it in tartare, sashimi or tataki.

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