Hi, my name is Camilla Labonte and I’m currently an intern at the Seychelles Bureau of Standard (SBS) which is located at Providence.
As I walked through SBS’s doors on my first day I was greeted with a warm smile from the receptionist and after a short wait in the lobby I was directed to the conference room. Right after the briefing that was conducted by Mr. Andy Ally (the CEO of SBS), Mrs. Nair the manager of the Bio-Chemical Testing Services (BTS) department and Mrs. Radegonde, I was given a general tour around by Mrs. Nair. Everyone was very friendly and introduced themselves to me.
For the first two days I was stationed at the “Trace Element Analysis Lab”. There I learned about the different processes necessary in testing for the quantity of heavy metals (Mercury, Lead, and Cadmium) found in the several fish species such as Yellow Fin Tuna, Skip Jack and in fish products like Tuna crude oil. (All of which were caught in a sustainable manner I presumed)
I spent a great part of my days at SBS taking notes and observing the different lab personnel as they did several tests using some awes trucking lab equipment and high-tech machineries. Nonetheless I was also given some tasks like labeling the test tubes, cutting small pieces of the composite sample (the raw fish) which would then be crushed in a blender, filtering the end products after blending, washing the glass wares just to name a few. They also performed other tests like finding out the amount of trace elements and ions found in different water samples etc…
Day 3 and Day 4 was spent in the “Food Chemistry Lab” where I learned more about the main tests that they carried out on fish samples which included salt testing and histamine testing done upon the client’s requests. “Histamine” is basically a nitrogenous biogenic compound present in a variety of food such as fish, fish products, meat etc. It is formed as a result of the decarboxylation (removal of –COOH) in the compound “Histidine” when certain foods are exposed to elevated temperature (between 15 ̊c – 30 ̊c) for an extended period of time.
Trust me when I say that you DO NOT want to end up with large doses of histamine in your bloodstream as it is toxic and has several effects on the individual like vomiting, peppery taste in mouth, abdominal cramps, diarrhea etc. So to ensure our safety and good fish quality, it’s crucial that the fishes are rapidly chilled and kept cold in ice immediately after the catch on board the vessels and be refrigerated at low temp by us the consumer.
Alrighty then, I think that that’s enough of the science lesson for now. These past few days has truly been a fascinating and vastly educational. Looking forward to the upcoming week of the internship at SBS .Until then, have a good one!