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Innovative technology based on the integration of natural substances in ice to improve animal welfare and extend shelf-life of farmed fish

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ICE2LAST (Innovative technology based on the integration of natural substances in ice to improve animal welfare and extend shelf-life of farmed fish)

Reporting period: 2019-04-01 to 2020-03-31

In Europe, almost one in three fishes gets spoiled before reaching the plate. The European fish sector has to face important challenges to become competitive and reduce fish losses by spoilage. Furthermore, since traditional slaughtering processes expose fish to substantial suffering over excessive periods of time, a pre-stunning phase is recommended, to rapidly cause loss of consciousness and sensibility without pain. However, most of the slaughtering procedures used nowadays do not involve any stunning phase. This results in reduced fish flesh quality and shorter shelf-life of fresh fish.
Global markets, such as the European Union, have already introduced minimum standards and Fish welfare is indeed an important issue for the EU which invests, mainly through public funding, on research projects for enhancing the shelf-life of fresh fish without altering its organoleptic properties. In this context, Cubiplaya has developed ICE2LAST, an innovation process for the EU fish sector that results in improved animal welfare, longer fresh fish shelf-life and greater fish flesh quality. The general objective of ICE2LAST is to launch to the market two different integrated methods for fish slaughter and fish preservation, ICE2LAST stunning and ICE2LAST preserving, based on the incorporation of natural-sourced ingredients with proven sedative and antimicrobial activity into the crushed ice. To do so, different experiments will determine the most effective dose to guaranty stunning and minimise fish suffering at slaughter and in consequence extend fresh fish shelf-life.
The implementation of ICE2LAST is based on a 24-month work plan, divided in the following work-packages: WP1.- Determination of the minimal effective dose of ICE2LAST:where several experiments have been carried out on different fish species (seabass, salmon, trout) to guaranty stunning and minimise fish suffering at slaughter; WP2.- Ice-manufacturing validation: The design of an ad-hoc ice machine unit has been realised, meeting the production capacity, essential oil dosage system and additive dissolving for nanocapsulation requirements. Also, the ICE2LAST production in most common ice-machines used by the fishing industry has been validated; WP3.- Validation of ICE2LAST technology and user-manual elaboration: All the information from WP1 and WP2 has served to design a versatile and effective ICE2LAST formula valid for the different types of fish industry stakeholders. ICE2LAST has been tested through end-user trials under real-production conditions in order to receive feedback from the users and the information has been used to prepare the ICE2LAST user guides and training manuals; These trials have proven the increase of self-life extension and quality enhancement of fish thanks to our solution.
WP4.- Regulatory tasks and IPR management: the application for the evaluation and the fulfilment of regulatory procedures of ICE2LAST stunning and ICE2LAST preserving as food ingredients in regard to health legislation has been done and we are awaiting the final authorisation by the competent authorities. The ICE2LAST stunning patent has been extended as a PCT for a European Patent. The ICE2LAST preserving patent has been published as a Spanish Patent.
WP5.- ICE2LAST team has implemented communication and dissemination activities to inform about the added value of ICE2LAST technology for the Fish sector, highlighting the importance of this feasible solution to the spoilage problem while contributing significantly to reduce fish waste. This is important not only for society and the environment but for the fish sector in particular by the significant increase of their revenues. ICE2LAST project´ team has made several efforts to make the technology known among the potential clients and key stakeholders in the sector. In parallel the team has done a market analysis to identify main market segments and needs as well as consumer trends and we have gained knowledge on the markets we are addressing, the perceptions of consumers and the current opportunities beyond the fish industry.
From this analysis, useful information has been utilized to fine-tune the communication of our innovation to our targets. In addition, the team has performed important steps for the commercialization of ICE2LAST such as the establishment of pre-commercial agreements with potential clients such as Mercadona, the larger retailer in Spain, which has an important “push effect” on its fish suppliers to adopt our technology.
WP6.- Project management and coordination was set in place to ensure the most efficient conduction of project tasks, monitoring the project progress and alignment with the objectives. The project has been executed in line with the initial work plan and no major deviations have occurred. WP7. Report describing ethical issues and the authorisations obtained in regard to the experiments with animals.
ICE2LAST , an integrated method based in the introduction in ice of natural source ingredients for sedative and antimicrobial activity for fish slaughter and fish preserving has been validated in a real industrial environment showing positive results. The in-site testing phase conducted through the end-user trials, constitute a crucial step to validate ICE2LAST´ performance needed for assuring the market acceptance. Different trials done with the collaboration of several potential users showed that ICE2LAST contributes to improve key performance indicators such as the fish welfare and the extension of fresh fish shelf-life through microbiological activity control, compared to control ice. Some physiochemical and as well sensory parameters related to the quality of fresh fish (such as texture, appearance, odour, etc..) showed positive results (lower deterioration) in fish preserved with ICE2LAST. Finally, ICE2LAST stunning is a good option to reduce stress in stunning seabream and other farmed fish at slaughtering.
Besides these main achievements of ICE2LAST, the enhanced fish safety and fish self-life, this is also an easy to implement solution. The simple manufacturing procedure involved and being a cost-effective solution, since there is no need for extra equipment nor additional working procedures, contributes to facilitate its uptake by the fish sector both in farm and wild fish. Therefore, ICE2LAST has a promising value in contributing to reduce fish losses through spoilage control during distribution, resulting in a positive and key economic impact at the fishing sector.
ICE2LAST Project