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 help the partnership to prioritise the issues that were identified, SafeFish in conjunction with an external consultant produced the following reports:

May 2011
Hazards affecting Australian seafood

June 2014
Hazards affecting Australian seafood

October 2016
Hazards affecting Australian seafood

Following this process, the SafeFish partners used these documents to decide what issues should form the technical work program for the following year.

CURRENT ISSUES

For the 2015 to 2016 period, SafeFish is currently 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 who may be able to assist in the submission of a request to the Chinese National Health and Family Planning Commission to change the Chinese food standards code to allow sulphites in canned abalone. SafeFish is finalizing the technical submission, but it was determined that good relationships with the Chinese abalone industry and researchers will also be needed for the submission to be successful. A change to the Chinese food standards code will allow Australian canned abalone to be exported to China.

This work is estimated to be completed by the end of 2017.

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.

Extension Activity: US market access for bivalve shellfish

SafeFish and Oysters Tasmania are assisting the Australian bivalve industry to regain market access to the United States of America. The project is funded by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Package Assisting Small Exporters grant scheme. A package will be produced comparing the Australian Shellfish Quality Assurance Program with the equivalent USA Program (the National Shellfish Sanitation Program) to enable inter-governmental negotiations.