Near-infrared reflectance (NIR) spectra was recorded of 105 samples of cod mince prepared from chill stored thawed cod fillets of varying quality in modified atmosphere packaging (MAP). Traditional chemical, physical, microbiological and sensory quality methods developed for assessing fresh fish products were determined on the same cod fillets. The purpose was to evaluate the potential of NIR spectroscopy for estimating (i) frozen storage temperature, (ii) frozen storage period and (iii) chill storage period of thawed-chilled MAP Barents Sea cod fillets. Furthermore, the potential for measuring of selected quality attributes as drip loss, water holding capacity and content of dimethylamine by NIR was evaluated. The results of the investigation were presented using multivariate modelling methods such as partial least- squares regression (PLSR) and discriminant partial least- squares regression (DPLSR). Systematic differences in the NIR measurements on minced cod fillets were primarily due to the chill storage duration (days at 2 degreesC) on thawed-chilled MAP fillets. PLSR models based on wavelengths selected by a new Jack-knife method resulted in a correlation coefficient of 0.90 between measured and predicted duration of chill storage period (days at 2 degreesC). The root-mean-square error of cross- validation (RMSECV) was 3.4 d at 2 degreesC. NIR measurements provided promising results for evaluation of freshness for thawed-chilled MAP cod fillets completing the traditionally quality methods. However, it is necessary to study the effect of e.g. sample preparation, season, fishing ground and cod size together with more sophisticated pre-treatments of NIR spectra before the NIR method can be integrated as a method for evaluation of thawed-chilled MAP cod fillets. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.