CSIC and Mercadona's fish

CSIC and Mercadona will cooperate to improve quality and safety of fishery products

26 september 2018
  • Scientists and technicians at the Marine Investigation Institute (IIM) in Vigo will investigate fish parasites, namely Anisakis, so Mercadona can establish a trustworthy chain for its fishery products and improve the quality and service offered to its customers. 
  • This 1-year project, called “ANICHAIN” and participated by 6 specialist fish suppliers of Mercadona, will  focus on the species from the major fishing area FAO 27, that is, the Northeast Atlantic.
  • Both entities have the ultimate goal of leading the paradigm shift of managing parasite-associated risk by using a preventative and innovative approach based on the value chain and risk analysis.

The Spanish Superior Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) and Mercadona have started cooperating to improve the quality and safety of fishery products by investigating its parasites. To do so, the ECOBIOMAR research team and its Biobank Technical Unit of the Marine Investigation Institute (IIM) in Vigo will analyse in depth the behaviour of the parasites, especially Anisakis. This innovative study will allow Mercadona to apply the conclusions drawn to the management of its fishery products with the aim of consolidating a trustworthy chain and improving the quality and service offered to its customers.

The project will mainly analyse species from the major fishing area FAO 27, i. e., the Northeast Atlantic, and will be participated by 6 specialist fish suppliers of Mercadona. Specifically, Riveira Peixe Fresco, POSA, Mascato, Mastter, Abroma and Castletownbere will collaborate.

“With this initiative, the public research institution and the food distribution company join their efforts, interests and knowledge with the aim of transferring all the scientific evidence to the product to improve customer service excellence by reducing the presence of the parasite in the commercial batches and capitalising the organisation by training its employees and customers in health issues”, explained Ángel F. González and Santiago Pascual, IIM-CSIC scientists.

The cooperation between the two entities is organised through a technological support contract, which will start in September and initially last one year, with the possibility of extending it. This research will be carried out within the framework of the project “Estudio, diseño e implementación de una estrategia de análisis de riesgos para fortalecer las garantías de seguridad, calidad y calidez del pescado que comercializa Mercadona frente a parásitos emergentes y re-emergentes (ANICHAIN)” (Study, design and deployment of a risk analysis strategy to strengthen the safety, quality and caring of the fish sold by Mercadona in regards to emerging and re-emerging parasites [ANICHAIN]), with the aim of improving food safety and quality aspects.

Stages of the project

The purpose of the project is to generate knowledge, analyse it and distribute it by means of an efficient system that allows Mercadona to implement a risk data management platform associated to parasites in fish. To achieve this goal, there are four main stages.

First, product audit by applying new screening methods on the portion of exploited stock. The parasite observation at origin will be done by Mercadona's fish suppliers, whose technicians have previously been trained by IIM-CSIC.

The second stage will start once the epidemiological surveillance plan has concluded. IIM personnel will analyse the results with bioinformatic tools and biostatistic modelling to understand the risks and parameters that cause the presence of parasites in the batches.

Then, the IIM will design a decision tree to classify the risk of the commercial batches and the critical control points.

Lastly, the IIM will also develop a new self-learning tool aimed at several actors in Mercadona's supply chain.

The Marine Investigation Institute (IIM)

Since 2006, the IIM-CSIC has led and participated in several national and international consortia for the management of parasitic diseases in fishery products.

In 2013, the institute implemented a unique biobanking service infrastructure that provides traceability, order and a destination for the analysed samples and their associated data in the consortia's research programmes.

In 2015, the platform received the ISO 9001 international standard certification. This service organises the management of parasites in commercially interesting species, for the first time on a sector level, to guarantee a trustworthy chain in risk management.