Development of tools for product control and human risk evaluation in fishery value chains

The project intends to address the needs of both national and international food safety authorities and the fish processing and exporting industry of analytical tools to document the presence or absence, levels and possible effects of contamination with Anisakis simplex larvae or molecular traces thereof, in various fishery value chains. The tools will be based on visual, DNA-based PCR, immunology or proteomics and will cover different needs of detection (from yes/no to quantification of protein fragments) in fish, foods and feeds, and provide data needed in future risk assessments. The project is a cooperation between the Norwegian Veterinary Institute, the National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research (NIFES), Haukeland University Hospital Bergen, the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMBV) at the University of Oslo, and the Clinical Research & Development Mass Spectrometry Core Facility at the University of Colorado Denver.

Anisakis simplex on cod filet

The third stage larvae of the parasitic nematode Anisakis simplex (herring or whale worm) commonly occur in virtually all commercially exploited fish stocks in temperate seas. The larvae are mainly situated in the visceral cavity; however, a minor proportion may sometimes migrate deeply into the flesh. Currently, Anisakis is detected in foods by visual inspection or PCR.

Anisakis simplex in fish represents a significant consumer health risk:

  • Anisakiasis, human infection with live larvae, occurs by consuming raw or undercooked fish.
  • Allergy is elicited by Anisakis proteins (11 known allergens) in processed seafood.


A quantitative sandwich ELISA for the detection of Anisakis simplex protein in seafood
We recently developed and validated a sensitive, specific and quantitative sandwich ELISA for the detection of Anisakis proteins in seafood products. A pilot survey on processed Norwegian seafoods was performed. The ELISA was reliable, showing high selectivity, sufficient recovery and good sensitivity with an LOD at 0.3 mg/kg Anisakis simplex protein in processed seafoods. The pilot survey revealed low levels of Anisakis simplex protein in some mackerel products.

See publication of our quantitative sandwich ELISA detecting Anisakis protein in seafood in European Food Research and Technologies

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority is currently planning to perform a survey on raw fish products (Sushi).


Anisakis simplex proteins – proteomics
Proteins are studied and identified by gel electrophoresis, Western blot and LC/MS-MS-analysis.