Monitoring of parameters
Quality assurance systems require monitoring of parameters that might be critical throughout the production chain. Freshness and changes in sensory attributes are critical parameters during food production. Information concerning temperature and elapsed time of a catch are of course of major importance. Sensory methods such as QIM are very useful tools to verify this information. It is foreseen that the QIM will be useful to give feedback to crew members of fishing vessels concerning the quality of their catch, which may influence better handling on board.
Quality assurance in the whole chain
The standards of fish handling on board are also regarded as an important step in keeping the quality at a high level. The development of a so-called catch-index for the qualification-on of a good product manufacturing practice on board may contribute to quality assurance in the whole chain.
Fish processing plants handling the raw products from their own fleet have records of time/temperature. Yet they also have to rely on supplies from auctions or other sources and they would like to control the freshness stage. Buyers of fish are using different sensory methods and sensory schemes. QIM-evaluation of raw-material kept on ice will provide accurate and precise information concerning the freshness and a prediction of the freshness of fillets later to be inspected by the buyers, given production and storage conditions. Sensory evaluation of whole fish is easier and more accurate and it is performed at an earlier stage in the production. It would minimise cost and effort if the buyers and sellers used the same method. The linear relationship existing between QIM-score and storage time on ice is also very useful in production management. The processing of fish may affect the quality of the ultimate fish products and must be critically monitored. Development of so-called 'processing-indices' may contribute to the quality of the whole chain.