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Tasty, safe and sustainable: seafood as it should be

The list of innovations brought about by the EU-funded SEAFOODTOMORROW project is impressive. Project outcomes range from new production and processing methods, tailor-made healthy seafood and smartphone apps for consumers. Thanks to the project’s efforts, consumers and citizens can now benefit from higher quality, safer, more transparent and more sustainable seafood products.

© Georgiy #330947966, source: stock.adobe.com 2021

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Europeans do love seafood. It’s a source of high-quality proteins, vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids. But there is something else Europeans increasingly want: high-quality food produced in a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable manner. Something that has become difficult to guarantee by a resource-intensive industry under pressure from global markets.

“The whole market is changing. Consumption levels have been going down since 2008 while costs have increased. Meanwhile, production is transitioning from wild fish capture to aquaculture, with all the quality challenges this brings,” says António Marques, senior researcher at IPMA and coordinator of the EU-funded SEAFOODTOMORROW project.

SEAFOODTOMORROW tackles every obstacle standing in the way of better seafood production, processing and consumption. On the production front, the project team tested new feed ingredients that are not dependent on fish protein/oils but rather derived from algae. This was a tremendous success, as Marques notes. “These feeds have a lower impact on the environment and are an economically viable alternative to other existing feeds. As such, they support the growth and expansion of the seafood production sector in Europe. Moreover, they are rich in essential nutrients such as iodine, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids. This leaves fish farmed with these feeds fortified and better for consumers’ health.” The project especially focused on the nutritional needs of pregnant women, older adults and children – all of whom will also benefit from tailor-made seafood products thanks to the project’s efforts.

Another innovation related to production is a shortlist of formulas that can be used by producers of smoked salmon and salmon pâté to reduce the amount of sodium in end products while maintaining taste and microbiological safety. “The new formulas reduce sodium levels by at least 25 %. We hope that these will be taken up by seafood producers and processing companies,” Marques adds.

These are but a few of the project outcomes impacting the seafood supply chain. Thanks to SEAFOODTOMORROW’s fast-screening multiplex tools to assess contaminants and biotoxin levels in seafood, producers and retailers can now ensure its safety. The project team also validated technologies reducing the levels of contaminants in seafood products, as well as the energy and water consumption by processing companies.

Better informed consumers

From thereon, it was only a matter of reassuring and guiding consumers. The project’s efforts in this field can be split into three categories: information to consumers, best practices and safety assurance. To inform consumers, the consortium developed an improved version of FishChoice, a tool to assess the benefits, risks and sustainability of seafood products. The tool was first created within the previous (ECSAFESEAFOOD) project to help the public make informed decisions about their fish and seafood consumption. FishChoice is a free web-based tool available in 25 languages. A mobile app, also called FishChoice, has been available on iOS and Android devices since March 2021.

As they get to the market, consumers can rest assured that the seafood they purchase is what the packaging says it is thanks to the project’s fast-screening DNA authenticity tool. The TraSEAbility tool, which follows seafood’s journey from ‘catch to fork’, will also be available as a smartphone app. A certifiable quality label based on a new tracing system with a QR code brings the shopping experience full circle.

Once at home, consumers can rely on tailor-made food recipes made in collaboration with researchers, industry and culinary schools from various Member States. The innovative recipes, the best of which will be published on the project website, focus on sustainable and lesser-known seafood species.

As the global population and demand for sufficient and safe food supplies increases, SEAFOODTOMORROW is definitely a welcome contribution to a more sustainable way of consuming seafood!

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Project details

Project acronym
SEAFOODTOMORROW
Project number
773400
Project coordinator
Portugal
Project participants:
Belgium
Denmark
France
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Ireland
Italy
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Portugal
Sweden
United Kingdom
Total cost
€ 7 520 196
EU Contribution
€ 6 996 032
Project duration
-

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