Advanced Seafood Quality Assessment Training Course – a report (Oct 2007)

October saw the first of these new advanced courses being delivered at Fishgate Fish Market by the Sea Fish industry Authority approved trainer, Adrian Barratt, assisted by Lee Cooper of Seafish.

The five day long course is a mix of theory and practice as participants are taken through the theory of quality assessment and then thrust nose deep into assessing the colour, flesh, odour and taste of real fish. It’s not all fun and games though as the course covers a great deal of material in just four and a half days.

The Participants for this first course were drawn from fish processors and trainers, both local and from as far away as London. Nine people participated in the programme and from the feedback we received it would seem they found it both informative and fun. Although the first course can be considered a complete success, the second course will be changed to make it even better.

Monday 1st October

An early start for Adrian and Lee as they started sorting fish for the course at 7:00 and getting everything ready for the arrival of participants at 8:30. Stanton’s Café in the Fish Market proved to be a popular gathering point before each day’s training and as we had our lunches there it was a real asset to the course.

Monday began with a presentation in the Electronic Auction Room at Fishgate of the Introductory Seafood Quality Assessment Course, a 2hr long theory session that has been available to industry since April 2007.

After lunch we moved through to the main hall of the Market where Adrian introduced the group to the practicalities of assessing fish and Lee delivered an exercise on calibrating your taste buds.

Tuesday 2nd October

Tuesday’s session began back in the main hall of the market where Fishgate have a small laboratory. The taste calibration exercise was repeated before the group carried out assessments of Cod quality using both the TORRY scales and QIM (Quality Index Method) on raw Cod of various ages and quality. Cod was also assessed using the TORRY scale for cooked Cod.

The afternoon sessions comprised the theory of assessing flatfish and the practice of assessing Plaice.

Wednesday 3rd October

Wednesday saw the participants assessing Cod and Plaice on their own. The day before they had worked in small groups and had been able to collaborate on coming up with an appropriate score for each fish, but today they were on their own and their assessments of raw and cooked fish were compared with each other and with the scores from their trainer.

The rest of the day was spent going over the theory of assessing pelagic scoring systems and then practicing on mackerel and herring.

Thursday 4th October

A more stressful day than any of the previous one’s as this was the day of their examination. How would they do? How effective had the training been? These two questions were to be answered by their performance in assessing a range of Cod and flatfish over a 2 hour period. On the whole they all did very well.

After the stress of the examination the rest of the day was a more relaxed affair as they first looked at a range of assessment schemes for other species and then evaluated smoked and chilled seafood from supermarket counters and coated seafood products from their frozen food aisles. With their newly developed sensory abilities the participants were able to be more critical in their tasting as we disassembled fish fingers and battered fish to see what was really inside.

This was the last of the practical sessions. The rest of that afternoon we discussed how to set up and standardise quality assessment teams, a discussion that continued the next day.

Friday 5th October

The last day of the course was a half day theory session where we discussed calibrating assessment teams and developing new scoring systems as well as the training opportunities that the participants could now take advantage of, thanks to their advanced training.

The final feedback session was an opportunity to tell us where we had made mistakes and where we had got things right. Overall the conclusion was an informative, worthwhile, and enjoyable training course.

Now, who wants to go on course number two? >>> more information