Exploring Portable Spectroscopic Devices, Sensors, and Analysis Methods for Seafood Decomposition Detection

Apr 12, 2022
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About This Webinar
Seafood products are one of the most highly consumed and internationally traded commodities, with over 90% of U.S. seafood (by volume) being imported. The safety of seafood is primarily the responsibility of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which employs National Seafood Sensory Experts (NSSEs) who are highly trained in established organoleptic methods used to evaluate the freshness of this perishable product. Portable spectroscopic devices and sensors have been proposed to further support NSSEs and to provide on-site analytical methods. Betsy Jean Yakes presents recent work done by the FDA to study portable spectroscopic devices for seafood evaluations, as well as a projection on future efforts and improvements.

She presents five devices that were evaluated for their ability to distinguish fresh from decomposed fish: two microminiaturized near-infrared (NIR) devices, one portable Raman spectrometer, one bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) device, and one electronic nose instrument. For every device, standard analysis and/or chemometric methods were applied to the data. While previous studies using such devices have shown some success, these studies used smaller sample sets and samples without NSSE grading, limiting both sample diversity and true relation to regulatory states of decomposition. The FDA’s study focused on employing two imported fish species (mahi-mahi and red snapper) that were NSSE graded and separated into seven levels ranging from 1 (fully fresh) to 7 (fully decomposed).

For the three vibrational spectrometers and the BIA device, direct evaluation (i.e., no sample preparation) of the fish fillets was done, and the results illustrated that differentiation was hindered when true diversity — such as natural variations in protein, water, fat, and fillet thickness — was included in the models. With the electronic nose device, sample preparation — including accurately weighing the sample and then heating it in a sealed jar — was necessary to obtain accurate results. The protocol allowed for 93% to 100% correct classification rates in a calibration-independent test set of sensory-pass versus sensory-fail samples. While all devices from this rigorous evaluation were shown to be limited in their true on-site application, further instrument developments and improved sample preparation techniques could allow for better implementation of a field analytical method.

***This presentation premiered during the 2022 Photonics Spectra Spectroscopy Conference. For more information on Photonics Media conferences, visit  

About the presenter:
Betsy Jean YakesBetsy Jean Yakes, Ph.D., received her doctorate in analytical chemistry from Iowa State University in 2007. She has since worked in the Office of Regulatory Science at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition as a research chemist. She currently leads research on portable devices and has developed accurate biosensor detection methods for toxins and pathogens, as well as spectroscopy methods for improved authentication and adulteration evaluation of foods, dietary supplements, food contact materials, and color additives. Yakes is the chair of the FDA’s Portable Devices Technical Advisory Group for foods, she supports the FDA’s “New Era of Smarter Food Safety” endeavors, and she provides technical guidance to multiple external and international organizations.
Sensors & Detectorsspectroscopyagriculturefoodvibrational spectroscopy
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