SUREFISH: Fostering Mediterranean fish ensuring traceability and authenticity
The SUREFISH project, funded by the PRIMA programme (Partnership on Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area) within the framework of the European Horizon 2020 programme, aims to provide solutions for the traceability and authentication of fish, thus reducing the fraud currently present in this sector.
According to the latest data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), globally, fish represents around 16.6% of the animal protein supply and 6.5% of all protein for human consumption. Due to its multiple properties, annual per capita fish consumption is projected to increase from 17.2 kilograms in 2010 to 18.2 kilograms in 2030.
This progressive increase in consumption makes this product one of the most traded food items in the world: its first-sale value is estimated at $129.2 billion for capture fisheries and $160.2 billion for aquaculture production globally2. (FAO data, 2016).
The Mediterranean Sea is particularly rich in fish species, but the fish chain is particularly vulnerable to fraud, mainly related to species substitution and mislabelling. These circumstances affect consumer confidence in Mediterranean fish products.
Summary and objectives
To curb fraud in the sale and consumption of fish, the SUREFISH project works on innovative solutions to valorise traditional Mediterranean fish by fostering the supply-chain innovation and consumer confidence on fish products through deploying harmonised solutions and protocols to achieve unequivocal traceability necessary to confirm their authenticity.
To achieve this, SUREFISH is working on the development and implementation of global solutions that integrate safety, traceability, and authenticity of the Mediterranean fish supply chain by using technologies such as RFID, Blockchain and Time-Temperature Indicators (TTIs) to prevent manipulation as well as to harmonise and validate related analytical methods and create a transnational network of laboratories.
The solutions reached will be tested in four pilot cases located in four countries, each focusing on a representative Mediterranean fish: Tunisia (on fresh and marinated anchovies), Egypt (on fresh farmed tilapia fillets), Lebanon (on fresh groupers) and Spain (on bluefin tuna).
A mobile application will also be developed and provided to consumers in these countries to provide them with information on the traceability and authenticity of the fish they consume, which will have a positive impact on restoring consumer confidence in the Mediterranean fisheries sector.
The SUREFISH consortium includes 13 partners from 6 countries and brings together 5 SMEs, 5 research centers, 2 universities and an association.
1. Enco SRL (coordinator). Italy.
2. Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II (UNINA). Italy.
3. Centro Nacional de Tecnología y Seguridad Alimentaria (CNTA). Spain.
4. Ingeniería y Control Electrónico S.A. (INGE). Spain.
5. Instituto Tecnológico del embalaje, Transporte y Logística (ITENE). Spain.
6. ANFACO. Spain.
7. Institut National des Sciences et Technologies de la Mer (INSTM). Tunisia.
8. Group Didon Marée. Tunisia.
9. Association Slow Food Tebourba. Tunisia.
11. Fish Basket. Egypt.
12. American University of Beirut (AUB). Lebanon.
13. Sofia for Fresh and Frozen Fish Trading S.A.R.L. (SOFIA). Lebanon.
The SUREFISH project is organised in seven work packages. ITENE is leading Work Package 2, which consists of the development of innovative traceability solutions, and participates in Work Package 4, which addresses consumer confidence in packaging solutions, and Work Package 5, on the validation of innovative solutions to achieve traceability and confirm authenticity.
In all these areas ITENE will bring its expertise in traceability solutions and will seek to solve the problem of species substitution and mislabelling.
In the framework of SUREFISH, a traceability platform based on blockchain, QR codes and time-temperature indicators has been developed to monitor the cold chain and the authenticity of the fish.
Through state-of-the-art tools and methodologies for fraud detection and freshness and quality assurance, the European PRIMA SUREFISH project has developed a comprehensive solution to improve transparency, accountability and protection of fish species throughout the seafood value chain.
In addition to generating knowledge and data on the conservation of Mediterranean fisheries and suggesting policy recommendations to improve their management and sustainability, the project has developed a complete, fast and simple traceability system to combat fishing fraud, authenticate the origin of the products and guarantee the highest quality.
This system combines new technologies such as blockchain, time-temperature tags and optical QR codes which, together with 12 harmonised analytical protocols to authenticate products, help to make fraud more difficult and facilitate supply chain traceability along the value chain. They also allow consumers to verify the authenticity of food and how it is produced and marketed.
As part of the consortium, ITENE has selected different technological solutions for cold chain traceability, such as time-temperature indicator tags (TTIs) and devices to measure temperature and humidity (dataloggers). Afterwards, these were evaluated in ITENE’s transport simulation laboratory to determine protocols and recommendations for companies in the fishing sector that would use them.
Furthermore, the research centre used the selected solutions to evaluate the performance of the packaging available for the transport of seafood products and to verify the maintenance of the cold chain. It also participated in the analysis of consumer confidence in the packaging solutions, as well as in the validation of the ones developed through the implementation of four pilot cases.
These innovative solutions were tested, calibrated and validated for optimal performance with the support of the project partners and their adoption in fishing companies such as DIDON MAREE in Tunisia, Fish Basket in Egypt and Sofia For Fresh and Frozen Fish Trading S.A.R.L (SOFIA) in Lebanon, which are also part of the consortium. The solution is currently being considered for expansion and extension to other regions and markets.