Project number: 1998-360
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $9,800.00
Principal Investigator: Damian Ogburn
Organisation: NSW Department Of Primary Industries
Project start/end date: 7 Oct 1998 - 15 Feb 2000


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1. To evaluate technology and products currently availabel for the individual tagging and identification of seafood products.
2. To identify the most appropriate technology and products (systems) and possible improvements to existing systems to enable for the on-farm tagging and identification of shellfish.
3. To evaluate the economic cost to industry of implementing the on-farm and market poace use of appropriate systems.
4. To evaluate the positive and negative impacts in the market place resulting from the labelling of product.
5. To design an integrated "paddock to plate" trial to investigate both the on-farm feasibility of an appropriate tagging system(s) and the reliability tagging system(s) for market place product identification and traceback.

Final report

Author: Damian Ogburn
Final Report • 1999-11-12 • 2.41 MB


This report outlines the results of investigations into the feasibility of cost effectively marking or labelling individual oysters and other shellfish for product differentiation and to facilitate rapid and efficient recall of product in the event of a potential public health incident.

A number of different types of plastic tags, manufactured in Australia and overseas, can be glued or otherwise secured to oysters and other shellfish but the cost of these tags is prohibitive for all but the most expensive products such as abalone or lobster.

While there is a vast assortment of inexpensive adhesive labels used in the food and beverage industry there is currently no commercial label (or experimental adhesive) that will adequately adhere to a typical damp oyster as packed at an oyster farm.

Thus there is no cost effective label or mark that will survive ‘paddock to plate’ distribution for most shellfish and allow for positive and rapid product identification for a food safety related traceback operation. However a number of adhesive labels were identified that could be securely attached to a vast assortment of clean and dry shellfish including oysters, pipis, abalone, crabs and crayfish.

The cost of these labels ranges upwards from a cent each for the small type commonly seen on apples and kiwi fruit. Such a small label could carry sufficient information for product identification and recall for food safety purposes and some brand differentiation but would be too small for any promotional message.

A one cent added cost for a label (at the farm gate) plus the labour cost for thorough cleaning and drying oysters for label attachment would financially cripple or destroy most oyster farming businesses.

The question of cost effectiveness of larger, slightly more expensive labels (costing about several cents each) for promotional purposes would depend on the value of the individual seafood product itself and the company’s volume of throughput and financial resources. These could be an economically attractive marketing tool for the processors or marketers of large and/or valuable seafood item such as an abalone or lobster.

The absence of a mark or tag suitable for paddock to plate distribution for individual shellfish is commonly perceived as the fundamental problem with shellfish safety, particularly so for oysters.

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