Project number: 2011-232
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $17,709.60
Principal Investigator: Tom Madigan
Organisation: Abalone Association of Australasia Inc
Project start/end date: 14 Sep 2011 - 2 Aug 2012


Tissue sulphite residue is a significant issue due consumer sensitivity. Although estimates are highly
variable; commonly quoted figures suggest that about 1% of people are sulphite-sensitive, and of that group, 5% have asthma (USFDA, 1988). One to four percent of all asthmatics may be sulphite sensitive, with this rising to 5-10% among steroid-dependent asthmatics (SPDNA, 2004). There are few data on how much sulphite is required to produce a response in a sensitive individual; however Simon (1998) and Lester (1995) reported that most would react to ingested metabisulphite in quantities ranging from 20-50mg.

The sensitivity issue has lead some countries to impose limits on sulphite residues in abalone flesh (eg Japan 30ppm, Canada 100ppm, pers comm. A. Ziolkowski, SECC) while others such as China, a major market for Australian abalone, have no standards for sulphite residues so have adopted a zero tolerance policy (pers comm L. Feazey, AQIS). As much of Australia’s abalone exports to China go via the vulnerable grey channel there has been interest in eliminating blueing by non-sulphite means acceptable to Chinese authorities. This would then allow entry of the product via legal channels.

The development of a novel non-sulphite anti-blueing agent has the capacity to significantly influence abalone processing, and improve market access, increasing profitability. This supports FRDC’s RD&E Plan Industry Program NRP ”Frontier Technologies for building and transforming Australian industries” and the associated Rural R&D priority “Improve productivity and profitability of existing industries… .” Theme 7 of the Industry Program is also highly relevant: “improve productivity through operational efficiencies, new technologies…”, as is the associated Performance Indicator: “Development of knowledge, processes and technologies to improve productivity and profitability of the commercial sectors”.


1. To engineer cost-effective food-permitted non-sulphite additives to be used in place of sulphiting agents to prevent blueing of abalone during canning and processing

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