We want Norwegian seafood to keep the highest possible quality. That is why we are researching how to look after fish and shellfish through capture, processing, storage and distribution, and how we can best utilize the raw materials.
- Methods for measuring and documenting raw material quality
- Knowledge about processing, with a focus on quality, shelf life and utilization of raw materials
- Assistance in utilizing marine raw materials to make high-value products
- Training courses on using the QIM method
- Increased industrial understanding of which factors help ensure good quality through the capture and processing
- Developing new solutions for automatic quality control in fish processing
- Methods for instrumental measurement of blood in fillets and whole fish, and sorting by bleeding and/or blood stains
Norway exports seafood for around NOK 100 billion each year, and seafood is one of our most important export items. That is why a strong focus on quality and wholesome utilization of raw materials should be a matter of course in the Norwegian seafood production.
Expertise on raw materials and quality
We have documented how high quality is achievable when the raw material is handled properly from the moment it is captured or harvested from the sea. For many years we have examined how to achieve the highest possible quality in wild fish, wild fish in live storage and farmed fish.
To exemplify, we have examined the correlation between quality and the use of various fishing gears, such as gillnets, fishing lines, trawls and seine nets.
To achieve the best possible quality, it is important to avoid damage, stress and exhaustion – in other words, gentle handling of fish and seafood. Our research documents how on-board handling, the slaughter method used and the time it takes to process the fish, affects its quality.
By using processes and practices that consider the welfare and proper treatment of fish, the raw materials and end products will have a higher quality.
However, even though high quality fish is important, producing it still has to be profitable. In our research projects we take into account the fact that it should be possible to carry out initiatives for improving quality in a cost-efficient and sensible manner for both businesses and fishing vessels.
Process and value creation
In our research projects we try to understand and increase knowledge about properties and characteristics of various fish and seafood products. Humane slaughtering and handling practices are fundamental for ensuring good quality, providing flexibility in processes and product selection. When researching storage conditions and shelf life of seafood, we gain insights that are highly useful when developing quality products that meet market demands.
We have knowledge on and experience from traditional fish processing, such as production of fillets, salt fish and dried cod, production of stockfish and smoked fish as well as the freezing and thawing process of fish and marine products. Having a profound understanding of the raw material and what it can withstand is vital for developing high-quality products. One example is the processing of raw fish immediately after slaughtering – pre-rigor fish – which is associated with different product characteristics than the traditional processing of fresh fish.
Our research activities also include new methods and production concepts. Technology for freezing and thawing, and the impact these processes have on the seafood quality, is another issue we are passionate about. The manufacturing of and processes used on raw materials from fish and shellfish in live storage is another subject area where we have a lot of expertise. One of the focus areas in this regard is how the product quality is affected if the fish is fed during live storage.
Methods for quality assessment
To understand and describe the quality of seafood, it is important to use objective tools and methods. We have developed and use several different methods for describing the quality of seafood.
QIM: By using the sensory quality index method, QIM, it is possible to identify the quality status and remaining shelf life for whole, raw fish. Other sensory tools include the Catch Index method, which is used to document the quality and injury on fresh fish.
MICROBIOLOGY AND BIOCHEMISTRY: We also use microbiological and biochemical measurements to document the quality and shelf life of raw materials and products, as well as physical measurements such as colour measurement and texture (firmness) measurement.
A key research area within measurement and quality assessment is the use of imaging spectroscopy – an advanced type of light monitoring – to measure and document seafood quality. Nofima has over the course of several years developed technology and analytical methodologies based on imaging spectroscopy. This technology makes it possible to assess and measure both good and poor quality, and document the quality status through the various stages of industrial production.
An example of how we use this technology, is when fillet products are undergoing quality control on the production line, where each product is measured and evaluated in just one second. The new methods can also be used to categorise and sort various raw materials into different applications and product categories.