Hermetia illucens meal (HIM) as ingredient in feed represents a way to achieve more sustainable food production. The aim was to characterize the chemical, microbiological and organoleptic characteristics of four diets for Sparus aurata, isoenergetic and isoproteic, containing 0%, 25%, 35% and 50% of HIM in substitution of fish meal (FM). Analyses were carried out using gas chromatography for fatty acids and amino acids, ICP-OES for minerals and liquid chromatography for aflatoxins and following International Organization for Standardization methods for microbial flora. E-sensing analysis of the diets was evaluated using an artificial sensory platform (E-eye, E-nose and E-tongue). The chemical results were submitted to a one-way ANOVA while Principal Component Analysis (PCA) of the e-sensing data was performed. No significant differences were observed for polyunsaturated fatty acids, thrombogenic and peroxidation indices among the diets. The replacement of FM with HIM increased the content of lysine, methionine, isoleucine, leucine, threonine and valine, while phosphorus, calcium and sodium content decreased (p < 0.01) as the percentage of HIM increased. Lead was significantly below the maximum level set by the EU regulation. The diets showed good hygienic and sanitary quality. The artificial senses permitted distinguishing color, odor and taste among the diets. Data allow considering Hermetia illucens as alternative protein source in fish nutrition.
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