Fish and shellfish from organic farming: how to choose them

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On the fishmonger’s counter the farmed fish it will be more and more widespread than caught fish. The good news for those who are attentive to a natural and organic diet, that therefore excludes or limits the use of chemicals in feed, is that aEven in Italy theorganic aquaculturewhich in its disciplinary prohibits the use of preventive antibiotics,
reproductive chemicals and hormones.

Organic aquaculture was officially born in 2008, even if it is still underdeveloped in Italy. “There are some realities that are starting to consolidate in Puglia, Calabria and Sardinia: mainly produce sea ​​bass and sea bream and for the still limited quantities they supply above all the local markets ” He says Fabrizio Capoccioni, biologist of the Center for Zootechnics and Agriculture of CREA, the most important Italian body of agri-food research. “On the other hand, the systems of organic shellfish farming in the northern Adriatic, with a production that manages to reach supermarkets ».

Furthermore, with the entry into force of the new European legislation on bio, even more stringent controls will be imposed.

How to choose an organic fish: look at the label

To buy organic fish in a more conscious way, here are the advice of the CREA expert.

  • Look for the “bio” green leaf on the label: even fish, molluscs and crustaceans can be raised organically.

  • Choose preferably Italian and European fish products: they are subjected to more stringent controls along the entire supply chain.

  • Ask the retailer, but also the restaurant, to show you the name of the farm where the fish comes from: almost all the Italian ones have a website where you can inform yourself transparently about farming methods.

  • See if it says “antibiotic free”, or if the fish was raised without the use of antibiotics throughout its life cycle: there are more and more Italian and European companies that offer this plus to guarantee greater sustainability.

Identity card of organic shellfish

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Here are the characteristics to distinguish the organic shellfish.

  • They can only be bred in extremely clean and controlled marine areasclass A on the basis of microbiological criteria established by Community legislation or in areas of good or high ecological status according to environmental quality regulations.

  • In the case of bivalve molluscs (mussels, clams), wild seed collected outside the production unit can be used provided that there is no damage to the environmentor seed produced by certified organic hatchery.

  • The production of organic bivalve molluscs is practiced in areas bounded by stakes or other visible signs and is possibly enclosed in net bags, cages or other artifacts. They should be used wherever possible alternative materials to plastic like hemp.

  • The stocking density cannot be higher than usual in the production of non-organic shellfish. Encrusting organisms are removed by hand or by physical means and eventually thrown back into the sea at a safe distance.

  • According to the classification of water, mollusks can be placed directly on the market (class A) or after relaying in dedicated facilities (class B or C) for a time that varies with the concentration of the bacterium E. coli in the product.


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