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Stress Free Tuna July 14, 2007

Posted by Mrs Weird Scientist in Easy As Pie, Environment, Nutrition and Health, Ocean.


Have you ever wondered if the stress that tuna experience when caught affects the tuna flavor when you eat it? Um..me neither! Well, scientists in Japan have given it a great deal of thought and they are now looking for ways to de-stress tuna so that it tastes better when it hits your plate.

Struggling Fish

Tuna tend to struggle vigorously when caught, thrashing about rather intensely. It is thought that all of this thrashing raises the body temperature of the fish and causes whitening of the meat. This whitening then reduces its value and affects the taste and quality of the fish. I would be curious to try stressed out tuna versus unstressed tuna just to see how much of a difference my taste buds can detect.

Nets Make It Worse

When caught in a net, it’s not surprising that tuna will struggle even more aggressively. Scientists are investigating ways to alleviate some of this stress so that the fish can remain fresher and will also taste better. Kunihiko Konno, a professor at Hokkaido University, is heading the stress-reduction project. According to Konno:

People want to eat tuna when it’s as fresh as possible but once it struggles, the freshness goes down.

Although he is looking at various ways to reduce this stress, he cites the obvious one as:

Kill them very quickly.

Tuna canAs unpleasant as that sounds, it’s not a bad idea. In theory, it will mean better tasting tuna that’s fresh and visually appealing as well as tuna that die a less stressful death.

What The Difference Can Mean

With all the competition between restaurants, that fancy dish you see way above could bring in more customers if the tuna is less stressed when caught and thus, tastes better. The same will go for grocery stores- if the tuna tastes better, customers will come back for it. For now, most of the tuna we eat is caught in similar ways and does involve stress, so the differences in taste will have more to do with how it’s cooked rather than the meat itself. This may just be more information than you ever wanted to know about tuna but it’s good to keep sight of what fish go through before they make it to our plates.

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1. Woman At Mile 0 - July 17, 2007

I enjoyed this post. Thanks for the directions : )

2. Miss Weird Scientist - July 17, 2007

You’re welcome. :) I still can’t decide if I’m enjoying my tuna sandwiches more or less now that I know about this research..hehe.

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