Technical Program

The technical program is underpinned by a strategy to identify current and emerging food safety and market access issues, prioritise these issues, and undertake technical work to provide potential solutions to overcome those of highest priority.

Three rounds of this strategy have been facilitated by SafeFish to date, the first in May 2011, second in June 2014 and the most recent in October 2016. In order to scope and prioritise the issues that were identified, SafeFish produced the following reports that contained information such as background, sectors affected, trade and market access information, public health impact, regulatory issues, economic impacts, reputational impacts – media and political, and environmental/sustainability issues that may have been present.

May 2011
Hazards affecting Australian seafood

June 2014
Hazards affecting Australian seafood

October 2016
Hazards affecting Australian seafood

Using this information, the SafeFish partners then prioritised the issues through a risk ranking process. On the alternate years, a smaller in-house process of issue identification and prioritisation was run by the secretariat and the partners to set the work plan for that interim period.

CURRENT ISSUES

For the 2016 to 2017 period, SafeFish is facilitating technical work on the following issues which were identified as High-Priority by the partners:

Sulphites in Abalone

SafeFish participated in a trade mission to China with the Seafood Trade Advisory Group and the Australasian Abalone Association in May 2017. The mission met with key researchers and businesses that could assist in the submission of a request to the Chinese National Health and Family Planning Commission (CNHFPC) to change the Chinese food standards code to allow sulphites in canned abalone. SafeFish has put together an application to the CNHFC, and has submitted it to the Abalone Council of Australia to finalise and submit. A change to the Chinese food standards code will allow Australian canned abalone to be exported to China.

Food Authenticity in Seafood

A seafood authenticity project has been drafted by South Australian Research & Development Institute (SARDI), Curtin University, Honey and Fox, Safe Sustainable Seafood and ICS seafood’s, and submitted as part of the Fighting Food Waste and Fraud CRC bid. This project proposal included partnerships with FRDC, Abalone Council of Australia (ACA), Southern Rock Lobster (SRL) and Australian Council of Prawn Fishers (ACPF), and focuses on export of these sectors, and the accidental and deliberate fraud of domestic seafood in Australia. This project would benefit abalone, rock lobster, prawns and the seafood industry as a whole. As part of this program, a proposal was also drafted by industry around the misnaming and mislabelling of seafood in Australia as this has been found to be an issue internationally. There is currently no data in Australia on mislabelling, country of origin and fraud data. SafeFish is currently working in collaboration with the researchers above, to progress this work further.

An automatic traceability program for the Seafood industry in the United States is currently running. A similar system is proposed to be implemented in Australia. For more information, click here.

Extension Activity: Biotoxin Test Kits 

Marine biotoxins have been a substantial issue for bivalve shellfish recently, with 23 domestic and 3 international recalls occurring over the last 5 years, with consequential public health risks. The time taken to analyse samples for biotoxins is partly to blame. In response to this issue, SafeFish has successfully validated a rapid and cost effective biotoxin test kit. The kits can be used on-site with immediate results. The work will now be advanced to allow uptake of the kits into business and regulatory programs providing significant industry benefits including; protection of market access, reduced public health risk, re-opening of previously lost export markets, and an estimated $500k per annum in saved analytical costs.

This work is estimated to be completed by the middle of 2018.

Extension Activity: Authenticity Tools for Seafood

SafeFish are in the processes of finalising a review that was undertaken to identify the available tools that could be used by the Seafood industry to determine if a product is authentic. This was completed in response to the growing concern of food fraud and substitution of products that is happening in Australia and Internationally. The review will identify all tools that can be used to determine if substitution or mislabelling has occurred.

This work is estimated to be completed by the end of July 2018.

2018 Prioritisation Process

At the August SafeFish partners meeting (to be held in Adelaide), a prioritization workshop will be held to identify and rank issues that are currently affecting Australian seafood to determine the SafeFish work program for 2018-19. As part of this process, proposed strategies for technical work to assist in resolving each issue will also be reviewed. This workshop is open to all interested SafeFish stakeholders. If you would like to register to attend, or if you would like to raise any additional issues to be considered in the process please contact the SafeFish secretariat (info@safefish.com.au or 08 8429 2286).