Risks of fish substitution in imported seafood

Charles Sturt University research has highlighted the potential risks of fish substitution in imported seafood, in particular those posed by parasites. Charles Sturt Associate Professor Shokoofeh Shamsi (pictured) from the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation and School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences said this has implications for both consumers and the environment.
Read more

Positive outlook for Australian fish stocks

A new report from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) has delivered generally positive news for wild fish stocks in Australian Government managed fisheries.

Acting ABARES Executive Director, Peter Gooday, said the latest Fishery status reports 2019 revealed 70 per cent of fish stocks reviewed were not overfished and not subject to overfishing.

“The reports reflect a generally stable trend of stock status, with only five stocks changing status from last year,” Gooday said.

“A jointly managed stock, striped marlin in the Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery, is now classified as both overfished and subject to overfishing, and Australia is working with the other fishing nations of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission to try to rectify that.

“In fisheries solely managed by the Australian Government, no stocks were classified as subject to overfishing.

READ MORE: Why mass flow meters are important in fish farming

“However, a number of stocks in these fisheries remain classified as overfished and it is uncertain whether stocks will rebuild under current mortality rates. The
Australian Fisheries Management Authority continues to work with stakeholders on strategies for rebuilding these stocks.

“There is also a small proportion of stocks, in both Australian Government managed and jointly managed fisheries, that are now classified as uncertain due to outdated assessments or to changes in catch that need to be monitored.

“The reports also look at the economic performance of fisheries managed by the Australian Government, with $390 million generated in gross value of production (GVP) in 2017–18. This represents 22 per cent of the $1.79 billion GVP of Australia’s total wild capture fisheries.”

This report forms part of a suite of ABARES publications that provide a comprehensive and multidimensional account of the trends and outlook for Australian fisheries.

Seafood expert reveals why 30 per cent of seafood products are mislabelled or fraudulent

With 30 per cent of seafood on the international market found to be incorrectly labelled when tested, the Marine Stewardship Council has revealed the causes and implications – and how it is almost eliminating substitution and fraud in the industry.

Anne Gabriel, Oceania program director for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), a global non-profit that sets a benchmark for sustainable fishing and traceable supply chains, will be speaking about this topic at the upcoming Asia Pacific Food Safety Conference in Sydney. The APAC Food Safety Conference is the leading food safety event in the Asia Pacific for retail, agriculture, food manufacturing and food-service professionals, and is organised by SAI Global.

“That such a significant proportion of the consumer seafood market is affected by substitution and fraud highlights the complexity of global food supply chains, which are inadequately regulated, and the challenges in monitoring every step. Substitution and fraud risk the sustainability of our global fishery resources, business reputations and consumer trust,” Gabriel said.

The two major causes of mislabelling
A motivation to boost profits is one of the two major causes of mislabelling. “Competition for low prices has motivated some food manufacturers to take shortcuts and make cheap substitutions. Scientific investigations have repeatedly revealed higher rates of mislabelling among premium products, such as wild-caught king salmon, in order to boost profits,” said Gabriel.

Accidental mislabelling is the second major cause. “Often, seafood is unintentionally mixed with different species at various points along the supply chain. This could be the result of poor systems or simply a lack of knowledge on the need for maintaining a traceable supply chain and to meet gaps in supply.”

Implications of seafood mislabelling
Gabriel says the implications can be alarming and wide ranging. Firstly, mislabelling can incentivise illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, estimated to cost the global fishing industry up to $33.8 billion a year. “This poses a significant risk to marine ecosystems, as it diminishes management efforts and can result in high levels of bycatch and abandoned ‘ghost nets’ damaging marine habitats,” she said. Secondly, the trade of vulnerable or endangered species can go undetected.

Thirdly, mislabelling deceives consumers. It can result in consumption of fish species that come with health warnings. Lastly, consumers might also be unwittingly purchasing less sustainable seafood options.

In her presentation, Gabriel will discuss the MSC’s efforts to improve traceability to tackle seafood mislabelling. The MSC’s third-party chain of custody program – which allows verified organisations to use the MSC’s blue fish tick label – is an effective deterrent for systematic and deliberate species substitution and fraud. DNA barcoding of more than 1400 MSC-labelled products has shown that less than 1 per cent were mislabelled. Anne says, “To be certain that a seafood product label is correct, we need to improve traceability back to the source – and through all stages of food production, processing and distribution. This is integral to ensuring oceans are teeming with life and seafood supplies are safeguarded for future generations.”

Each year the APAC Food Safety Conference attracts delegates involved in the development, implementation and maintenance of food safety programs across manufacturing, food services, food science, produce and retail. The 2019 conference will address current issues such as waste minimisation, food tampering, seafood fraud, food exports, and emerging superfoods.

Other speakers at the APAC Food Safety Conference will include:

  • Dr Craig Shadbolt, food incident response and complaints manager at the NSW Department of Primary Industries, who will discuss ‘Recent Outbreaks with High Risk Horticulture’.
  • Michelle Robertson, senior food scientist at Food Standards Australia and New Zealand, who will discuss ‘Review of Food Safety Management Requirements in Australia’.
  • Felipe Favaro, general manager at Hemp Foods Australia, who will discuss ‘Hemp Foods & Food Safety, Challenges and Opportunities’.
  • Mark Field, Head of Coles Brand, ‘Consumer Demands Driving Product Innovation and Emerging Food Trends’
  • Craig McGrath, Detective Inspector at Queensland Police Service, who will discuss ‘Police Investigative Perspective – Lessons Learnt’ on the strawberry tampering incident in Queensland.
  • Krista Watkins, food waste innovator at Natural Evolution, who will discuss ‘Minimising Food Waste’.

Nutritional quality of fish and squid reduced by warm water events

The nutritional quality of fish and squid deteriorates under warm water events, research reveals – with implications for the marine environment, marine predators and fisheries capturing food for human consumption.

Research led by the University of Sydney shows that under warm water events the nutritional balance of fish and squid changes and is of lower quality, while under cold water events it is of higher quality.

Conducted in New Zealand, the research used a highly successful marine predator seabird –the Australasian gannet – as a biological monitor of the marine environment and food sources.

The team combined miniature bird-borne GPS loggers, fish and squid nutritional analysis and nutritional modelling, and quantified colder and warmer water events by comparing the mean sea surface temperature with 10 years of data.

Fish and squid captured by gannets were found to have significantly lower ratio of healthy oils to protein during warm water periods (where sea surface temperature was warmer than the 10-year mean) and better nutritional quality during cold water periods (lower than the 10-year mean).

Published in the Journal of Animal Ecology, the research was a collaboration between the Charles Perkins Centre, School of Life and Environment Sciences and School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Sydney; James Cook University in Queensland; Massey University in New Zealand; and the Ornithological Society of New Zealand. It forms part of the Human animal interactions and Human food chain project nodes at the Charles Perkins Centre.

Lead author Dr Gabriel Machovsky-Capuska, adjunct senior researcher at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre, said the findings had implications for marine life and its predators, including humans.

Co-author Professor David Raubenheimer, the University of Sydney’s Leonard P Ullmann Chair in Nutritional Ecology at the School of Life and Environmental Sciences and Charles Perkins Centre, said the research team devised a novel approach in order to conduct the research.

“Our approach, which we call nutritional landscapes, allows us to associate the nutritional quality of marine resources – otherwise very challenging, as marine life continuously moves – with geographic location, water depth and environmental conditions such as sea surface temperature and chlorophyll levels,” Professor Raubenheimer explained.

“These findings underline the importance of linking marine environmental fluctuations with the nutritional quality of fish and squid for human consumption – and provide significant insights for fisheries that are capturing fish for humans to eat.”

Dr Machovsky-Capuska said the findings were also revealing for environmental and conservation purposes.

“The work shows that diet and foraging behaviour of marine predators are significantly influenced by warm and cold events,” he said.

“During warm water events gannets had to work harder for their food as they expanded their foraging habitat and increased their foraging trip duration, while at the same time consuming prey and diets with lower content of energy-providing oils,” he said.

“Our approach can be used to understand and ultimately protect travelling routes for migratory species, and could support the conservation of endangered species in terms of food quality and habitat suitability.”

Catching deep sea fishing and aquaculture opportunities in India

The Government of India and the Government of Tamil Nadu will provide A$300 million over the next three years to develop infrastructure for deep sea fishing off the coast of Tamil Nadu, opening up opportunities for Australian organisations to supply sustainable marine technologies and services.

With the second longest coastline in India at 1,076 kilometres, Tamil Nadu is one of the leading states for seafood production.

Fishing currently takes place about 15 to 20 kilometres off Tamil Nadu’s coastline and in the Palk Straits separating India and Sri Lanka, despite the state’s access to 2.02 million square kilometres of marine resources in the exclusive economic zone, which extends 200 nautical miles out to sea.

To build a sustainable deep sea fishing industry, the Government of Tamil Nadu has prioritised the development of coastal infrastructure, including modernising harbours and fish landing centres and building new facilities. It is also acquiring new tuna longliners, mechanising traditional fishing boats and tendering for a new mid-sea fishing vessel.

‘There are opportunities for Australian organisations to assist with boat building by providing design, refrigerated sea water systems, on-board and onshore fish processing systems, and communications devices,’ said Gregory Harvey, Trade Commissioner, Austrade.

‘Assistance is also needed to establish fin fish hatcheries and aquaculture grow-out systems, including RAS and high-quality feeds.’

In addition, there are opportunities to take part in World Bank projects, including undertaking resource assessment for fisheries and investigating ways to enhance revenue by selling by-catch such as octopus and oysters and harvesting pearl oysters.

‘Austrade is well positioned to assist Australian organisations that want to access opportunities in the fisheries sector in South Asia through its Sustainable Fisheries Initiative,’ said Harvey.

‘The initiative showcases Australia’s capabilities in wild-caught fish and aquaculture across major coastal states in India and Sri Lanka, with the aim of helping both countries achieve efficiencies of scale and improve the sustainability and economic viability of their fisheries and aquaculture industries.’

Australian expertise is sought in the following areas: barramundi fingerlings and hatchery setup processes; octopus by-catch techniques; pearl oyster harvesting; bio-algae–based aquaculture waste water treatment; high-performing shrimp feed; and deep sea fishing vessel design. Indian organisations are also looking for joint venture partners for boat building.

There is growing interest from other coastal Indian states looking to improve their processes and capabilities in fisheries and aquaculture, and the region is looking to Australia as a source for technology transfer and innovation.

Austrade has helped Australian organisations establish research and education partnerships with leading fisheries universities in India; organised for Australian aquaculture experts to visit South Asia to hold fisheries and aquaculture master classes; and assisted Australian companies to export fingerlings to the Sri Lankan market.

New aquaculture feed factory planned for Australia

Acquaculture company BioMar has entered talks with Australian state government officials to gain approval to build a new feed factory.

While the Danish-based company has not yet disclosed the location of the planned build, if approved, it would be completed by 2019.

BioMar expects the greenfield factory to have a yearly capacity of 110,000 metric tonnes. According to the company, it has been delivering an increasing volume of feed to the Australian market from its factories in Chile and Scotland.

With the new factory, BioMar aims to be “locally agile”, utilising its global product development and technical experience with species such as salmon, trout and yellow tail king fish. The company believes that being locally present with commercial staff, technical expertise and production facilities will lead to a competitive advantage in the market.

It intends to develop products tailored to local farming conditions, with a strong profile in regard to sustainability, feed safety and food quality.

“The world around us is changing, and there is an increasing need for combining sustainability and efficiency,” said BioMar CEO Carlos Diaz.

“We clearly see that end-consumers are changing buying patterns towards high quality products with a responsible profile. We firmly believe that working closely together with the value chain can prepare the industry to take a lead in the global food sustainability agenda.”

The announcement of BioMar’s Australian factory comes not long after the company opened a factory in Turkey earlier this year, with the company also intending to open a factory in China later in the year.

Image: BioMar

Healthy dose of special fish sauce keeps beriberi at bay

Adding the vitamin thiamine to fish sauce has been identified as the best way to protect Cambodian infants against the deadly beriberi disease.

A joint study by the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute and the University of Adelaide, found that introducing fish sauce fortified with the thiamine to the Cambodian diet provided enough nutrition to prevent the disease, which is a leading cause of infant death in the country.

The study involved a trial in Cambodia led by the South Australian researchers where varying levels of thiamine (vitamin B1) was added to fish sauce products during the manufacturing process.

Breastfeeding mothers and children who ate the fish sauce were then tested to confirm adequate levels of thiamine was present in their blood to prevent the disease.

Beriberi is caused by thiamine deficiency and in infant cases can quickly progress from mild symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea to heart failure.

With the findings published in the Journal of Paediatrics, Principal Nutritionist and Affiliate Professor at SAHMRI Tim Green said the next step was to lobby for funds to expand the trial in a bid to convince the Cambodian government of the merits of thiamine fortification.

“We’ve done this relatively large randomised controlled trial, but we provided the fish sauce in this case,” he said.

“Our next step is to scale up – to get Cambodian government or Cambodian industry involved and show that it works with 100,000 or 200,000 people.

“And if we can show that works, we can provide evidence to the government and they can also mandate the addition of thiamine to fish sauce.”

While fish sauce has no nutritional advantage over other foods trialled in the study, it was selected because of its near ubiquitous use in Cambodian culture.

img - FishSauce_tall1

Fish sauce is produced in centralised locations, making it easier for government and industry to control, and is already fortified with iron

Fortification is used in many countries around the world, but to be effective it is important to select a foodstuff already consumed by the majority of the population.

“Fortification is used in a lot of different settings – we do it in Australia, for example fortifying wheat flour with folic acid, or salt with iodine,” Professor Tim said.

“However, the important thing to consider is what you fortify may differ from country to country depending on what the staple is.

“We found that fish sauce in South East Asia is a good vehicle because it’s so popular and so widely consumed.”

While the trial was focused on Cambodia, Professor Green said a similar strategy could be adopted in other South East Asian countries affected by beriberi disease.

“Because beriberi isn’t always recognised and the onset from the initial symptoms – which can be quite mild – to death is so rapid, the best thing to do would be to prevent it in the first place,” Professor Green said.

While the study focused on thiamine fortification, the identification of fish sauce as the food of choice for delivery could also be expanded to cover other nutritional deficiencies.

Professor Green said his team had also considered the possibility of using fish sauce to deliver vitamin B2.

South Australia’s capital Adelaide has three long-standing public universities, Flinders UniversityUniversity of South Australia and the University of Adelaide, each of which are consistently rated highly in the international higher education rankings.

This article first appeared in The Lead.


Global fish and seafood market set to grow through to 2020

The global fish and seafood market has grown steadily in recent years, registering a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.8 per cent between 2011 and 2015, according to data from research company MarketLine.

MarketLine’s latest report shows that market values have increased in all regions. Global growth, however, is primarily driven by Asia-Pacific and South America, as the swelling middle classes begin to buy more expensive products through the organized retail channel. Despite this, the US is still the single largest market, and it is important for the global market that sales there continue to grow.

“The US is the largest market by value for fish and seafood, accounting for 13.9 per cent of global revenues. Value increases, while lower than in many other countries, have been driven by increased health awareness, as US public health bodies recommend eating two pieces of fish a week. Such advice is not unique to the US, and improved health consciousness is set to help the market globally in the mid to long term,” explained MarketLine analyst, Nicholas Wyatt.

The global market is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 3.9 per cent between 2015 and 2020, aided by increased health consciousness and the desire for quality seafood among newly affluent consumers.

Volumes are growing at a slightly slower pace than values, demonstrating the impact of increased values in developing markets. In fact, the difference in growth rate between volume and value is greater in Asia-Pacific than it is on a global scale, providing further evidence that premium products are propelling the market in that region.

“The future looks bright for the fish and seafood market, but producers must pay attention to sustainability issues. Responsible fishing is key to the future health of the market. Overfishing or disease spread by overcrowded caging, as has been seen before in Chile, can create damaging health issues that rock consumer confidence,” added Wyatt.

Although these issues mean forecasts must be treated with a degree of caution, the current outlook for the global fish and seafood market is very positive indeed.

Cost of food stretching household bubdgets: report

The cost of fresh food is the number one factor straining the household budgets of Australian families, according to a new report.

According to the Spend Sacrifice Report compiled by comparethemarket.com.au, the cost of food is a source of anxiety for 88 per cent of families. And the foods causing the biggest worries are fresh produce such as meat, fish and vegetables.

“Providing families with healthy food seemed to put the biggest pressure on budgets,’’ said the site’s spokeswoman Abigail Koch.

“The weekly pressures of buying groceries hurts their budgets the most as opposed to utility bills which are usually only paid every quarter.

“Petrol prices have come down in recent months but this still creates a lot of cost anxiety and people are shopping around for their petrol.”

Behind fresh food, the next biggest factors straining household budgets were fluctuating petrol prices (affecting 83 per cent of respondents) and energy bills (78 per cent).

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that the cost of food and non-alcoholic beverage has increased on average by 2.5 per cent over the last five years.


John West announces seafood sustainability initiative with Pacific Tuna

A brand commitment between John West Australia, WWF-Australia and the Marine Stewardship Council has been formed to help end unsustainable fishing methods within the Australian canned tuna industry.

The Pacifical alliance is the result of years of the entities working together to find a way to overhaul John West's supply standards within Australia, moving towards a more sustainable future for the world's oceans.

According to WWF Australia CEO Dermot O'Gorman, the alliance will now oversee 100 million cans of clearly labelled Pafical MSC certified sustainably sourced tuna in supermarkets.

"The magnitude of this -affecting a huge 43 per cent of Australia's canned tuna -makes this a world first. Sustainability in Australia has just taken a mighty step forward thanks to the leadership of John West Australia, O'Gorman said.

8 Pacific Island nations are united within the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) and are world leaders in tuna conservation and management with many global firsts such as high seas closures to fishing, observers on 100 per cent of pure seine fishing vessels and fishing day restrictions.

Population of fish species utilised by humans have fallen by half, however Australia's leading tuna brand is confident its position will aid in bringing awarness to the issue on a global scale.


Eight million kg of live seafood saved from perishing claims FishPac

FishPac, a supplier of equipment for the transport of air freighted live aquatic animals sustained with oxygen has announced that it has shipped 230,000 bins of live seafood.
Based on this estimate, FishPac also claims that it has:
·       Shipped approximately 320 kilograms per bin, equating to almost 74 million kg of live seafood
·       Saved the use of 6 million polystyrene boxes
·       Saved approximately 8 million kilograms of live seafood from perishing in transit

FishPac's average mortality is 1% (versus 12% with polystyrene boxes).

Along with these figures, FishPac has added black lip & green lip abalone, sea perch, barramundi, eel, king crab and a variety of juvenile fish (fingerlings), to previous coral trout shipments.

Regarding live Green lip abalone shipments General Manager Gavin Hodgins,  said: “Keeping such a premium, fragile species alive is a new industry benchmark. This has been achieved with 500kg payloads with zero deaths; a feat that has never been seen before.”

“We have also seen some clients’ shipments reach a staggering 65 hours of transit time with very low oxygen use levels for species like King Crab.  These are the sort of numbers the entire seafood industry has only ever dreamt about in the past.  FishPac is now making these possibilities a reality,” said Hodgins.

With such massive changes in mortalities and productivity in packing and shipping, FishPac said its clients are seeing a 100% return on investment in as little as three months when converting to FishPac’s system.

Living dangerously: climate change means extra risks for baby fish

www.theleadsouthaustralia.com.au/industries/research-development/living-dangerously-climate-change-means-extra-risks-for-baby-fish/Living dangerously: climate change means extra risks for baby fish

Published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, new research from the University of Adelaide suggests that climate change will reduce the number of baby fish that make it to adulthood.

The study indicates that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide could have an impact through altering the behaviour of juvenile fish, leading to poorer chances of survival.

“After hatching in the open ocean, baby fish travel to reefs or mangroves as safe places to feed and grow into adults,” explained Tullio Rossi, lead author on the study and PhD candidate at The Environment Institute, University of Adelaide.

“But when ocean acidity increases due to higher dissolved carbon dioxide, a number of factors reduce the chance of fish actually finding those safe havens.”

Tullio’s study focused on barramundi, a tropical fish whose range extends from the eastern Indian Ocean to the western Central Pacific. The species is highly valued across fisheries production, tourism and aquaculture industries.

In Australia, commercial barramundi fisheries produce around 5000 tonnes per annum, with an estimated production value of around AU$45 million.

“Wild barramundi migrate from fresh water to the ocean to spawn, with eggs and freshly hatched fish typically found around river mouths and marine bays,” said Tullio.

“At around two weeks of age, juvenile barramundi settle into mangroves and wetland habitats.”

But how do they know where to go? By listening.

Snapping shrimp and other creatures living in mangroves produce an underwater ruckus the fish are able to hear and follow.

Tullio’s research showed that when barramundi hatch and grow under conditions of elevated carbon dioxide, their response to mangrove sound is changed from attraction to avoidance. The study conditions were designed to reflect carbon dioxide levels expected by the end of this century at the current rate of carbon emissions.

“Our results show that ocean acidification can disrupt the window of opportunity for sound-driven orientation by baby barramundi towards settlement habitats,” said Tullio.

“This could lead to decreased chances of finding suitable adult habitat, leaving fish exposed to predation and starvation for longer periods of time.”

The study also found that even if they do find suitable shelter, baby barramundi exposed to elevated carbon dioxide are then inclined to remain hidden more than normal. From an ecological perspective, this might result in decreased success in finding food.

The scientists believe that increased ocean acidity changes how fish process sensory information via neurotransmitters, creating striking and dangerous alterations in their behaviour.

“If we continue to burn fossil fuels at current levels we could put baby fish in serious trouble, ultimately leaving them lost in an acidified ocean,” says Tullio.

“And this would inevitably lead to fewer adult fish and, potentially, reduced stocks for the fisheries we depend on for food.”

But it’s not too late.

“The good news is that we are still in time to limit our carbon emissions to levels that are not too dangerous for marine animals,” said Tullio.

Signed by 196 nations, The Paris Agreement was reached on December 12 2015, and commits nations to a timetable of emissions reductions aimed at keeping temperatures ‘well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.’

Tullio Rossi performed this study in collaboration with Professor Sean Connell (University of Adelaide), Dr Stephen Simpson (University of Exeter) and Professor Philip Munday (James Cook University).

Dodgy prawn packaging costs Kailis almost $11,000

According to the West Australian newspaper, seafood company Kailis Bros has been hit with a $10,800 fine after the Australian Competition and Consumer (ACCC) found shoppers could be mislead by the labeling on its “Just Caught Prawn Meat” product.

The ACCC said the packaging showed a prominent image of the Australian flag on its front and back.

A map in the bottom right hand corner included the words “Australian caught raw prawns” printed in a circle around the map, and the packaging also contained the words “Australian Caught-Raw-Deveined-Tail Off-Prawn Meat” noted the West Australian story.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the company had been issued an infringement notice because the ACCC had “reasonable grounds” to believe the company had engaged in conduct likely to mislead the public.

“The ACCC believed that the images and statements on this product gave the misleading impression that it was packed and processed in Australia,” he said.

"Businesses cannot rely on fine print disclaimers to correct or qualify a prominent country of origin representation that is false or misleading,” Sims said.

Kailis chief executive Nicholas Kailis said the prawns were caught by Australian fishermen on Australian boats in Australian fishing zones and were sent to Thailand for peeling and processing for cost reasons.

There was no intent to deceive the public, noted Kailis.

John West create fishy app

John West seafood brand has created a new online tool called Trace Your Fish that allows consumers to trace where their John West seafood comes from.

John west recognises that there is ambiguity around sustainable standards, which was what drove the seafood brand to create a new online tool called Trace Your Fish which allows consumers to trave where their John West fish comes from.

“Trace Your Fish is part of our commitment to ensuring that John West tuna and salmon are responsibly sourced and allows consumers to follow the journey from the waters their fish was caught to the cannery it was processes in,” said Simplot General Manager of Shelf Grocery, Katie Saunders.

Entering a unique code found on the John West code will allow you to find the information about you product.

Sydney Fish Market launches free seafood quality app

Sydney Fish Market has launched the Australian Seafood Quality Index app, which provides seafood buyers and restaurateurs with a useful guide to seafood shelf-life at their fingertips.

The new app has been developed to help assess seafood from catch to consumer. Users complete a checklist on several attributes of the whole fish, including appearance, odour and texture. The scores for each category are combined to generate a Quality Index score, which provides an indication of the remaining shelf life for the product.

Setting a benchmark for quality control, the Quality Index assists in the management of seafood products for the food service and retail industry. It is applicable from point of harvest; through transport; auction; distribution and sale.

Sydney Fish Market General Manager, Bryan Skepper, says: “This app was designed to incorporate established industry practices and present them in a user friendly, modernised way. It incorporates best practice seafood shelf life assessment and record keeping in one simple place.”

Special features include the ability to archive files for further assessment, upload images directly to a Dropbox account and the capability to customise settings to meet individual operational requirements.

Jointly developed by Sydney Fish Market and The University of Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the free app was funded by the Australian Seafood Co-operative Research Centre and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation. 

It is available for download on iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets, via the iTunes and Android stores by searching ‘seafood quality index’.

Wealth and health issues contribute to more seafood in diets

 According to Anastasia Alieva, Head of Fresh Food Research at Euromonitor International, Fresh fish and seafood has seen growth over 2009-2014 across all global regions apart from Western Europe, where consumers were most affected by financial crisis. In 2014 and over forecast period leading to 2019, fish and seafood is projected to have strong performance on both, global and regional level.

“As wealth grows in developing regions, fish and seafood is becoming more affordable and is eaten on increased number of occasions, especially in Asia-Pacific and Latin American markets where seafood forms big part of local diets,” said Ms Alieva.

While seafood is perceived as a healthier source of protein than meat in many countries, especially where health of the nations is threatened by high obesity rates, at the same time, there is falling red meat consumption and growing consumption of fish and seafood in Europe and North America where consumers are concerned about health and wellness issues.

Australia was ranked 31st for volume consumption of fish and seafood in 2014, with 5,299,900 tonnes. This equates to 11.6kg of fish and seafood per capita in 2014.

The variety of cuts from individual portions to filleted and cleaned fish and convenient, hygienic packaging offered by retailers also contribute to increased number of purchases as those consumers, who appreciate convenience feel more confident buying and cooking seafood, noted Euromonitor.