Update on SEAFOODTOMORROW Benchmark Tool

Written by Hannah Richardson, MRAG, h.richardson@mrag.co.uk

At the end of last year (2019), Hannah Richardson and Thomas Franklin of SEAFOODTOMORROW partner MRAG visited various seafood producing facilities in France, Greece and Spain, to support the delivery of one of the objectives in Work Package 5: ‘providing a benchmark tool for product quality labelling’.

The development of a successful benchmark tool, which will provide assurances of food safety and quality to consumers, is dependent on a reliable traceability system. In Vigo, Spain, the MRAG team were joined by members of AZTI and ANFACO to visit a mussel farm, Pescados Marcelinos, in Cangas, Pontevedra, Spain, in order to view the testing of the traceability tool being developed by partners in SEAFOODTOMORROW. This traceability tool will bridge business to business supply chains while MRAG will focus on ensuring reliable traceability within facility processing. This will ensure that all aspects of the supply chain have appropriate traceability systems in place.

Members of the MRAG, ANFACO and AZTI teams at the aquaculture facility in Cangas, Spain. © MRAG

Hannah Richardson of MRAG feeding seabream fingerlings at an aquaculture facility in Greece. © MRAG

In Greece, the MRAG team visited the packaging factory ‘Dagon’ and aquaculture farm ‘Skaloma’ in Igoumenitsa, which develops new SEAFOODTOMORROW, biofortified fish products. Dagon receives, grades and packages sea bream harvested from Skaloma which has been fed with fortified feed to improve nutritional qualities. Throughout the production and processing process, several control procedures are executed, including the use of electronic traceability systems by fully trained and competent staff at both Dagon and Skaloma. This informed how the benchmark tool would need to assess procedures relating to feed production, procurement of feed, feeding regimes and recording procedures, as well as traceability procedures during farming, harvesting, transport, packaging and labelling. Of particular note was the requirement for clear identification and labelling of fish feed and seabream cages (i.e. knowing which fish came from which cage), as well as establishing feeding protocols, to provide the necessary assurances.

In France, the MRAG team visited ‘IDMer’, a technical centre based in Lorient, to develop a provisional checklist and test audit protocols. Their visit coincided with the semi-industrial production of three of their six nutritionally rich recipes; the fish roulade, the fish sausage and the common dab fillets, which Hannah and Thomas were able to observe.

Thomas Franklin of MRAG inspecting the production of fish sausages © MRAG

In particular, this informed the team of the procedures and protocols involved in providing the assurances and establishing the points at which the claims are made and subsequent traceability requirements. This also helped establish what sourcing requirements, if any, are involved.

The SEAFOODTOMORRW benchmark tool will support seafood producers and processors in reaching SEAFOODTOMORROW quality and safety standards and to ensure the availability of reliable and healthy seafood products for all consumers.