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Prosjektnummer: 900985
Status: Avsluttet
Startdato: 01.03.2014
Sluttdato: 22.02.2016

Development and implementation of technical criteria for the differentiation of light salted vs. fully salted/desalted cod products: How to disseminate appropriate information and avoid misleading consumers (SALDICOD)

Results achieved
According to the final reports from the project, the main results are:
• Physico-chemical and microbial analysis determined that there are several compositional aspects that enable the differentiation of light salted and desalted products.
• Sensory analysis determined that light salted and desalted cod products can be discriminated by a trained panel but not by a consumer panel unless cooked. Information shall be given to
consumer at the moment of purchase for a conscious choice.
• Microbiological methods and molecular fingerprinting did not allow to the moment to discriminate target products.
• Verification of the discrimination potential of other novel advanced technologies (hyperspectral imaging and machine vision) for the future development of specific instrumental.
• Other methodologies either did not enable full discrimination, were affected by product changes during shelf-life, or were not within the objectives of the project (fast, simple, easy to
disseminate, etc.)
• Published standard pperating protocols validated and ready to be incorporated by control laboratories. These methodologies are based in standard instrumental available at laboratories:
  ─ Analysis of trimethylamine + trimethylamine oxide through UV-VIS spectroscopy.
  ─ Analysis of creatine using HPLC and UV-VIS detection.
  ─ Discrimination of cod samples (G.morhua) using FTIR based models.
• Scientific and legal substantiation of the need for a homogenized international market environment concerning cod products. Technical documents and proposals are available for this purpose.
• Verification of the need of a dissemination strategy towards the standard cod product consumer for an appropriate valorization of the nature and quality aspects of cod products.
De viktigste resultatene har vært utvikling og validering av analysemetoder for å kunne skille kommersielt mellom henholdsvis utvannet saltet torsk og lettsaltet fryst torsk. Det er nå mulig å foreta dette skillet.

Protokollene for å vise metodikk for kontroll skal være offentlig for bruk av offisielle laboratorier. Dette gir derfor myndighetene mulighet for bedre overvåking av torskeprodukter i ulike markeder.

ANFACO-CECOPESCA har utarbeidet et dokument hvor det er redegjort for de tekniske og kommersielle forskjellene mellom disse produktene. Myndigheter i Spania, dvs. Fiskeridepartementet (MAGRAMA) og Spansk kontor for forbrukersaker, matsikkerhet og ernæring (AECOSAN), har mottatt dokumentet og har blitt informert om prosjektresultatene på et eget møte. I etterkant av møtet har man blitt enige om en plan for felles validering av de analytiske metodene som er utviklet. Dette som en innledning til å utvikle spesifikke kvalitetsstandarder for produkter av torsk.
Change in consumers’ lifestyle has increased their interest for ready-to-use and less time-consuming products. This has motivated the cod industry to develop new products which match consumer needs, as is the case of light salted cod fillets and industrially desalted (previously salted) cod products.
In spite of the absence of scientific studies on consumer’s specific acceptance, it is generally considered that sensorial profiles of these products are significantly different. Specific flavor and texture changes arising from heavy salting and controlled ripening through prolonged storage are appreciated characteristics from southern Europe consumers.
These relatively new products, either commercialized in a frozen state or under refrigerated conditions (VP, MAP, etc.), are frequently present at the market under an unspecific denomination which makes difficult for the consumer to recognize and differentiate them.
In order to protect the singularity of these commodities, specific regulation concerning product categorization and labelling as well as technical criteria for official control enforcement, should be implemented. The definition of critical parameters in the differentiation of both products to be targeted under standardized and cost-effective analytical procedures, which could also be easily adopted by control laboratories, is also an important issue to be addressed. Finally dissemination strategies to let standard consumer appreciate the genuineness of these traditional products should also be considered.
Despite the fact that there are still not specific marketing criteria at a legal level, this situation somehow is covered by the general criteria laid down in food marketing regulation in the EU (Directive 2005/29/CE concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market). Recent legislation concerning labeling criteria has been recently set up in the EU (Regulation CE 1169/2011) which addresses the information given to consumers and product denomination.
Nevertheless, there is an absence of specific criteria to these new products concerning their marketing which causes some trade problems. Codification of these commodities by the customs authorities across Europe has not been properly coordinated since light salted cod fillets have been considered as frozen products in some member states (TARIC code 0304), meanwhile in other cases they have been included within salted products (TARIC code 0305). This topic has been under discussion by the Customs Code Committee of the European Commission in their last three sessions of 2013.

The advisory group in FHF for the saltfish sector, Italian importers, Spanish importers, as well as the Norwegian Seafood Council; have reported the necessity to clarify and to develop a simple method to discriminate between both products. They declare an absence of specific market regulation for these products, and methodologies for the official control enforcement.
• To develop valid methodologies for the discrimination of light salted cod products from traditionally heavy salted and resulting desalted products;
• To consider other novel advanced technologies because of its potential to develop cheap, specific, fast and simple methodologies for this purpose;
• To raise awareness by the competent authorities/consumers for the settlement of a differentiated commercial status for both products.

• To determine and document structural, compositional and sensorial differences between light salted and fully-cured /desalted cod. (Scientific dissemination);
• To study novel advanced techniques with potential to discriminate cod products, as basis for further development of simple tailored methods;
• To select appropriate (cost-effective, simple, widespread across control laboratories) discriminant methodologies;
• To optimize methods based on widespread techniques for the differentiation of the cod products;
• To carry out in-house method validation. (Development of a standard operating procedure (SOP);
• To report to the authorities and the food sector of technical criteria for the different categorization in trade and market of these products. (Roadmap for its legal implementation and consumer awareness campaign).
Expected project impact
The expected added value of the project is raising awareness of authorities towards the modification of the current legal frame concerning the putting on the market of new easy-to-use cod products.
As part of this main goal, scientific knowledge on cod products characteristics and behavior during processing and trade will be generated, that will be put into practice in the development of analytical instruments to be used in a renewed official control of cod products. Complementary several novel techniques will be considered under a preliminary approach in order to test its potential for future development of more simple and cheap tailored methodologies.
The transnational context of this project would facilitate homogenization of market criteria and global trade of cod products. This will definitely increase the chances for the success of this project concerning the implementation of new measures in the commercialization of cod products by European authorities. The strengthening of transnational collaboration among laboratories, research centers, and producers and trade companies is also a matter to be underlined.
Project design and implementation
The project consists of the following working packages (WPs):

WP1: Sampling
Task 1.1. Sampling design and coordination

Task 1.2. Industry sampling
Appropriate selection of materials and samples would be necessary which would include light salted products and heavy salted material from different producers. Heavy salted samples will be submitted to desalting or thawing (under standard conditions) locally at the corresponding research centers prior analysis. Sampling will consider traceability of the raw materials and final samples in order to include different types of raw materials (fresh vs. frozen) and time of storage (refrigerated/frozen) prior to salting, and duration of maturing steps.

Task 1.3. Market sampling
The collection of data would also be done at market level from real commercial samples (Spain and Italy) from both types of products either refrigerated or in a frozen state. Samples would be directly obtained from local supermarkets and shipped to laboratories.
WP2. Identification and selection of critical parameters
Task 2.1. General characterization of light salted and desalted products
General characterization of the products is necessary focused on several compositional, textural and sensorial parameters

Task 2.2 Development and optimization of analytical techniques
Screening of critical parameters would require the application of standard methodologies which may need updating and validation for the specific matrix and objectives proposed. It also may involve the development of some methods based on the proposed technologies by each one of the participants.
The preliminary techniques proposed are:
• Analysis of non-protein-nitrogen fraction (NPN) which includes extractable compounds like creatine, free aa, taurine, TMA, etc.
• Elemental analysis of cod samples (nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfurum, or others.)
• Analysis of protein profiles by SDS-PAGE.
• Light microscopy analysis of cod samples.
• Analysis of critical microbiota profiles in cod samples (T-RFLP, Phenotype microarray of peculiar microbial strains involved in maturing).
• Volatile compounds profiles (electronic nose).
• Analysis of image through vision system.
• FTIR Spectroscopy.
• VIS/NIR Spectroscopy.
Task 2.3. Analysis of the samples

Task 2.4. Selection of the critical parameters from analytical results
Common and collaborative selection of the proposed parameters in the differentiation of these products would be carried out by research centers based on different criteria like the quality of the results, simplicity, speed, robustness, etc
WP3. Optimization of analytical methods and validation
Task 3.1. Optimization and in-house validation of selected methodologies.

Task 3.2 Development of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the selected methodologies.

WP4. Project coordination and dissemination activities
Dissemination of project results
Contact to national (Spain, Italy, Norway) and international public and private bodies will be maintained along the project in the shape of technical reports and direct communication letters in order to maximize impact of the project results

The foreseen bodies which could be targeted are:
National level
ANFABASA (La Asociación Nacional de Fabricantes de Bacalao y Salazones / National Association of salted cod producers of Spain): Selected project results will be presented to this organism in the meetings that are organized at ANFACO-CECOPESCA on regular basis.
ASSOITTICA Italia (National Association of Processing Fish Industries)
FHL (Norwegian Seafood Federation)
• FHF (Norwegian Seafood Research Fund) will be responsible for organization of seminars with the dissemination of the project results to the Norwegian industry

European level
Specific information on the project achievements will be transmitted in order to disseminate concern at international level on this topic.
FoodDrinkEurope which represents the European Food and Drink Industry.
AIPCE-CEP (European Fish Processors Association-European Federation of National Organisations of Importers and Exporters of Fish).
DG-SANCO (Health and Consumer Protection Directorate General) of the EU.
WEFTA (West European Fish Technologist Association) annual congress or alternatives.

Complementary dissemination will be also carried out through the presentation of results in international congresses and scientific forums, and the submission of papers to relevant scientific journals.

Sectorial and general public communication will also be addressed through publication on sectorial and general-interest webpages, press releases, and sectorial magazines.