The aim of this study was to determine for sardines (Sardina pilchardus) the effect of (i) chilling in ice and water in small expanded polystyrene boxes during distribution and in ice thereafter and (ii) chilling in ice and water for the entire storage period. These storage methods were compared with storage of the fish in ice in wooden boxes or in expanded polystyrene boxes. Three storage experiments were performed to take into account the variability in handling conditions and seasonality. There were significant (P < 0.05) differences in the results of some of the sensory, physical, chemical, and microbiological analyses performed that showed that the fish were of better quality when preserved in water and ice than when preserved in ice alone. The effects of dewatering of the fish after transport and subsequent storage in ice were also significantly different (P < 0.05) from those of storage in ice, with the former storage method resulting in better sensory and microbial indices. However, oxidative rancidity, as measured by thiobarbituric acid–reactive substances, was higher for the dewatered fish than for fish preserved in water and ice throughout the storage period. It is concluded that for sardines, storage in water and ice, either only during transport or throughout the storage period, can be useful as an alternative preservation method during distribution and retail sale.

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