Project number: 2008-717
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $20,411.22
Principal Investigator: Richard Musgrove
Organisation: SARDI Food Safety and Innovation
Project start/end date: 31 Oct 2008 - 28 Feb 2009


This project will contribute toward Seafood CRC Program 1B:

Output 1.7 "Smart processing technologies and practices"

Milestone 1.7.2
Application of innovative technologies for controlling spoilage to enhance shelf-life and marketability

Milestone 1.7.6
Harvest, post-harvest and processing practices evaluated and enhanced to maximise and protect quality attributes

Milestone 1.7.8.
Technology and capability to support innovation of new seafood products developed

This project fits into the CRC “smart processing” theme


Global economic factors and market forces warrant the need for a significant portion of the SASF harvest to diversify from the domestic tuna feed market into higher value markets. This need is in part driven by the strength of the Australian dollar. Over the last 24 months the volume of relatively cheap imported feed has forced a significant decrease in the beach price of locally caught sardines, necessary so local catch can maintain market share. The strength of the dollar is forecast to remain high.

The South Australian Sardine Industry needs to diversify its market base and increase the portion of the annual catch that is value-added to offset the issues described above, and the associated risks of sustained low returns.

The marketability of South Australian sardines is negatively affected by high volume of the nightly catch and the limited capacity of most sardine vessels to adequately chill fish on board. There is a need to trial technology that will remove heat from fish immediately postharvest more efficiently than current practices. This will reduce spoilage and extend the shelf-life for value-added grade fish.

The implementation of post-harvest technologies such as flow-ice at the point of capture will assist the production of a higher quality product which, in turn, should increase the GVP of the SASF.


1. Assess the utility of flow-ice in preserving the freshness of Australian Sardines from the point of harvest to processing, and wholesale and retail supply chains

Final report

ISBN: 978-1-921563-20-1
Authors: R Musgrove T D’Antignana J Carragher
Final Report • 2010-04-29


This project assessed the utility of flow-ice in preserving the freshness of Australian Sardines from the point of harvest to processing, and wholesale and retail supply chains. Trials were carried out on the Gemma Marie (White Fisheries) based at Port Lincoln, South Australia. Experiments involved comparisons between flow ice (FI), ice slurry (IS) and refrigerated seawater (RSW) at a fish:cooling medium ratio of 1:1. Core temperatures were recorded from fish stored in FI and IS for up to two days; with associated shelf-life trials running up to six days. Fish were also sent to markets (SAFCOL, Angelakis and Cappo Bros in Adelaide, and Sydney Fish Market) for appraisal and sale.

The data collected indicated the greater cooling effectiveness of flow ice and its beneficial effect on fish quality (through lower Quality Index Method (QIM) scores). Sardines in FI reached 2°C after approximately nine minutes and O°C within 11 minutes. Fish in IS took 30 minutes to reach 2°C and few cooled beyond this point. All batches of fish chilled with FI that were sent to market as part of this study were better than average, and, in one case, the best they had seen in a long time. However, there was no difference in price between sardines chilled in flow ice and those chilled in ice slurry. The study was terminated due to persistent mechanical failures of the leased flow ice machine. Thus, further work is necessary to explore the potential of flow ice, particularly at higher fish:cooling medium ratios. It may be that auction market price is not the best indicator of product quality and it is therefore suggested that QIM and other tests such as further storage, and filleting and cooking trials be carried out using sardines treated with the technology.

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