A representative sampling of tuna muscle for mercury control

  • Pierluigi Piras | pirasp@tiscali.it ATS Prevention, Department of Southern Sardinia, Cagliari, Italy.
  • Antonino Bella Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Roma, Italy.
  • Maurizio Cossu Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Sardegna, Sassari, Italy.
  • Gianuario Fiori Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Sardegna, Sassari, Italy.
  • Andrea Sanna Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Sardegna, Sassari, Italy.
  • Giannina Chessa Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Sardegna, Sassari, Italy.


The mechanisms of mercury accumulation and distribution in fish tissues are related to its high affinity for sulfhydryl groups in proteins. There is evidence that mercury is distributed unevenly based on the different reactivity of these groups in the various muscle proteins. Tuna fish also shows numerous specialized anatomical features including the structure of the swimming muscles and some form of endothermy, which generates variations in the mercury content between dark and white muscle and between muscle tissues with different lipid content. The aim of the study is to verify, through a suitable sub lot of Thunnus thynnus caught by a static trap in south-western Sardinia, the effective uneven distribution of mercury in the various muscles and also identify the sites representative of the entire carcass. In agreement with other authors, the results show that even in the Bluefin tuna of the Mediterranean, the site “anterior extremity of upper loin (schienale in Italian)” is representative of the mercury average content of muscle tissues as a whole.



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Original Articles
Bluefin tunas, Fish muscle sampling, Mercury determination
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Piras P, Bella A, Cossu M, Fiori G, Sanna A, Chessa G. A representative sampling of tuna muscle for mercury control. Ital J Food Safety [Internet]. 2020Dec.3 [cited 2021Oct.17];9(4). Available from: https://pagepressjournals.org/index.php/ijfs/article/view/9055