The presence of parasitic nematodes of the genus Anisakis and/or their proteins in seafood poses a risk to human health through a fish-borne zoonosis, namely anisakiasis, that can cause gastrointestinal disease and allergy. The presence of Anisakis may also dissuade consumers from purchasing fishery products, resulting in economic losses to the fishing industry. This is the first time a survey-based contingent valuation study has been performed to investigate consumers' willingness to pay for Anisakis-free fish, and to analyse consumers' responses to the presence of Anisakis in fishery products. In a survey conducted in Spain, the majority of consumers (77%) were willing to pay extra for an Anisakis-free product, indicating a willingness to pay 10% above the usual fish price at market (6.60€/kg compared with 6€/kg). Past reluctance to purchase or consume fish due to the presence of Anisakis was reported by >25% of consumers, with hake being the most frequently rejected species. Nearly two thirds of consumers would cease consuming or purchasing fish due to the presence of Anisakis. Consumers' willingness to pay was found to be significantly related to gender, stated past and future avoidance of fish consumption or purchase due to the presence of Anisakis, stated past avoidance of cod, hake and mackerel, stated consumption of sardines, and to their perception of the degree of risk of future development of anisakiasis and/or allergy to Anisakis. The study revealed two main types of reaction to the presence of Anisakis in fish: the avoidance of eating parasitized fish, and a willingness to pay above market price to avoid adverse effects on health and food quality. Overall, the results suggest that the presence of Anisakis in fish is an important health and aesthetic issue for consumers, and this is relevant for the fishing and food industries as well as for food safety authorities. Improvements in parasite inspections and development of technologies to prevent Anisakis infection in fishery products would likely both improve the economic sustainability of the industry and benefit public health.
Bibliographical noteWe thank our partners of the PARASITE project (EU FP7 PARASITE project (GA no. 312068)), for their help during the creation of the questionnaire. We thank Pablo from CETMAR for his help during electronic implementation of questionnaire. Miguel Bao is supported by a PhD grant from the University of Aberdeen and also by financial support of the contract from the EU Project PARASITE (grant number
312068). Ethical approval from the University of Aberdeen for the dissemination of the questionnaire was obtained.
- Contingent valuation
- Fish parasite
- Fishing industry
- Willingness to pay