Course Report - Advanced Seafood Quality Assessment - Jan 2008

Course Report - Advanced Seafood Quality Assessment - Jan 2008

Second Seafood Assessment Course a Success

The second week-long Advanced Seafood Quality Assessment Course closed last week to the opinion that it had been a resounding success.

Those experienced in the seafood industry will appreciate the great variety in seafood quality that is available throughout the seafood chain, and the purpose of this course is to provide the tools to accurately and consistently assess the quality of fish in both raw and cooked states.

The course provided each of the participants with an opportunity to learn about the theory and practice of applying both Torry freshness scoring system and Quality Index Method (QIM) assessment methods to the assessment of quality of cod, plaice and salmon. With more than 70 whole fish and fish samples to assess, the participants were able to improve their skills and will be able to apply their new knowledge upon their return to the workplace.

As with the previous course, the emphasis is on the practical assessment of fish quality. Scattered throughout the week-long course are sessions on the theory of TORRY and QIM, and lessons on setting up teams and developing new assessment schemes. The most important skill which the participants learn is to gauge and assess the look and odour of fish gills, fish eyes, slime and the texture of fish flesh.

The course begins with a theory day, with a thorough introduction to the principles of both the Torry assessment schemes and QIM. Participants take part in a taste calibration practical to assess individual sensitivity to flavours and there is a short practical session looking at fish quality.

The second day starts with a short refresher session on the assessment of cod quality before the participants spend the rest of the day working in groups and individually handling and assessing a number of cod samples, comparing their results with those of the trainer and their colleagues. Gradually, through the day, their results become more consistent as the constant practice starts to pay off.

The third day follows the same process with plaice replacing cod. Plaice samples ranging from very fresh to the wrong side of acceptable are viewed, prodded and sniffed at until everyone is confident that they can distinguish between a TORRY 8 plaice and one scoring seven on the ten point scale.

The fourth day took a departure from the previous course and at the request of the group from M&J Seafoods, farmed salmon was introduced as an assessed species in the place of mackerel and herring. The afternoon provided an opportunity to assess the cooked quality of a range of cod, plaice and smoked fish samples bought from three local supermarket fish counters that morning.

The course finishes at lunchtime of the final day and provides an opportunity to look at developing new assessment schemes, reviewing the overall course and presenting the Advanced Seafood Quality Assessment certificates that each participant earned during the week.

The final session of the course is called ‘Next Steps’ and explores what the participants can do with their new understanding and experience. The two main opportunities presented by the course are a becoming a quality assessment trainer and implementing more effective quality assessments systems in house.

From the feedback received at the end of this course, it seems that both of these opportunities are attractive to the participants and the course may well lead to seafood quality assessment training being delivered to staff at M&J Seafoods in the near future.

The course, delivered by Seafish at Fishgate Fishmarket in Hull, was attended by a team of regional and technical managers from M&J Seafoods and by Adam Fanthorpe of North Quay Seafoods, Grimsby.

Third Course Scheduled
This is the second advanced course funded by an EU (FIFG) grant. A third course is scheduled for 14 April 2008 and will be delivered at Billingsgate Seafood Training School in London.