Well today was my meat hygiene exam, this looks at all the requirements for the production of food products from poultry, fish and game. This was the subject for which I visited a chicken slaughterhouse (you can read about my visit here) along with a fish processing plant and other not so interesting places such as a mayonnaise factory for egg processing.
So the exam paper was 10 pages long with a short answer question and a long answer question on each day. The short answer were either for temperatures – such as what temperature game meat needs to be kept at, or how many days eggs can be marketed as extra fresh for. The long questions needed more input, there was one in my case looking at the diagnosis and transmission of TB (Tuberculosis) in birds, another one wanted the slaughter process for poultry, another to describe the qualifications for a layperson to inspect game carcasses. It’s all pretty interesting as general knowledge however unless you are going to specialise in one of the specific areas is going be rarely used.
When I finished I was not entirely sure how I felt about my paper, it was one of those where I was going do really bad or really well. In this case however I did really well, I found out about 3 days after the exam that I had got myself a A!!! Still not entirely sure how but definitely am not complaining here!
I guess the biggest lesson I am taking away from this though is that smoked salmon is not always smoked salmon! Apparently it’s totally legal to market it as smoked salmon when instead of using a smoking chamber they just use the “aroma” of smokedness! Really don’t like this one and so you should always check the pack ingredients to see if it lists an aroma or if it is proper smoked salmon!!!
This evening as I am studying in Slovakia I was invited to attend the BSAVA International Delegates reception at the Birmingham National Aquarium. Now I’ve been meaning to visit this aquarium for the past two years however have never managed to get around to it so was really looking forward to this evenings event (and hoping it included a chance to look around). On entering I noticed it was not what I expected as instead of being a set of rooms, there is a walkway through what are themed zones based on areas of the world. In addition something else that was really interesting was instead of just having an underwater tunnel with viewing above the tunnel enclosed a walkway allowing the watching of fish underneath so you are completely surrounded by them.
I liked the way that this was set out, and with diseases of fish this semester I am coming to understand a lot more about the different species, and their adaptations which I find has made previously beautiful creatures also very interesting. Obviously pretty things relax the mind, however I now know for example that flatfish swim on either their left or right side (yes they actually have a preference). It is slightly worrying as when looking at the fish pushing its head out the water I did wonder if its something to do with that species, if its something it has learned to do, or if it is related to the environment?
One of the aims of Birmingham National Aquarium is the conservation of the sea turtles, and this is the first time I’ve come across this and actually seen an alive leatherback sea turtle. In addition to this they have a 4D cinema showing a Turtle conservation film with special effects including wind, water and special moving seats. They recently had success in breeding and hatching 12 new baby sea turtles who are now around a year old…
To talk now about something else that I find fascinating I want to mention jellyfish, these are amazing animals with the ability to live even without a brain, heart or bones. There were a lot of different jellyfish here so I will follow-up later a diary entry just on jellyfish, for now I will just leave you with this picture…
What a day, to be honest I am sitting here wondering how I could possibly fit it all into my 500 word daily target. It’s a shame really that I have 3 subjects that I could talk about for hours in a single day and other days where I am really left with not much to say at all. I am actually considering splitting my diary for Tuesdays over both Tuesday and Thursday which will let me go into more depth, and give me more to talk about Thursdays – what do you guys think of this?
Well today started with diseases of bee’s, and the major part of it went to look at the difference in anatomy of bee’s. Now this is pretty interesting as the bee is so small yet has several differences, the first of which is that it has an open circulatory system. Basically instead of having capillaries to carry the blood to organs the heart pumps it directly into body cavities to surround organs before it then diffuses back to the circulatory system. In fact even bee blood itself is different as the bee does not have erythrocytes (red blood cells); instead it has something known as haemolymph which is made up of haemocytes and is a yellowish colour. The bee also has several specialised glands which help produce the honey and wax, in addition to the poison gland which is located next to the stinger.
It’s pretty common knowledge that a bee with die after it stings you, whats not so common is the understanding of why this is. Below you can see an image of the bee sting under the electron microscope and see that it has barbs each side which hook into the skin when a bee stings you. Now these means it takes time for the bee to remove it after however our first instinct is the brush the bee of us, and when we do this the stinger and attached poison glands are ripped from the bee’s abdomen causing its death.
Onto fish now today we started looking at the effect of the environmental conditions on the fish. Now the environment includes both the physical and chemical characteristics of the water that is home to the fish. Whether that is the temperature, viscosity, density, pH, salinity, oxygen saturation or even the electric conductivity.Today I will look at the oxygen in terms of the environmental conditions as without it there is no life. Fish take oxygen dissolved within the water into their body through the gills where it then enters the blood. Now the temperature of the water does really affect the level of oxygen that can be saturated within the water (the graph below is for an indication only and does not have a complete dataset!).
As you can see water at 100 degrees celsius cannot contain oxygen, ideally most fish live in conditions with the temperature between 15 – 30 degrees celsius. Now oxygen enters waters through two routes, the diffusion of oxygen from the water/air barrier at the surface, and through the process of photosynthesis. The majority of oxygen in water does actually come from photosynthesis of plant matter, this requires sunlight so on average there is 12 hours where photosynthesis does not take place. This leads us into a daily cycle of variation in the oxygen concentration with the oxygen level in water being lowest just before dawn, and highest at sunset.
During winter when the days are shorter (so less light), and with many water areas being frozen (preventing the diffusion of oxygen into the water) many fish enter a low metabolic state (aka use less oxygen to live) in the bottom layer of the water. During this period of low energy fish are extremely vulnerable to disease. On that note I will leave you for today!