The first example of an extruded polymer film containing the pH sensitive dye bromophenol blue (BPB) is described in which the polymer encapsulated dye changes colour from yellow to blue upon exposure to basic volatile nitrogen compounds, such as those given off by fish as it spoils. The latter include: trimethylamine (TMA), dimethylamine (DMA) and ammonia (NH3), and are collectively known as total volatile basic nitrogen (TVB-N). The films’ colourimetric response to specific levels of TMA, as measured using absorbance spectroscopy and digital photography coupled with RGB colour analysis, is reported. The indicator is then used as a fish spoilage indicator at 22 and 4 oC, whilst at the same time a microbiological study is carried out, and in both cases the results reveal a strong correlation between the change in colour of the indicator with the concentration of bacterial colony forming units on the fish; the latter is often used as a measure of fish freshness. The correlation arises because the increase in TVB-N in head space of the package is due to the gradual bacteria-induced decomposition of the fish. The colourimetric TVB-N plastic film indicator's potential as a spoilage indicator for packaged fresh fish is discussed briefly.
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Colourimetric plastic film indicator for the detection of the volatile basic nitrogen compounds associated with fish spoilage