Consumers, quite rightly, expect the very highest standards in food production and
want to know the origin of the food they eat. They demand, and look for, proof of
excellence from growers through to suppliers across all food sectors. High quality
produce results in a greater consumer demand and increased prices, therefore it is
necessary for producers to distinguish their product from others in the market.
Increasingly this is being achieved through Quality Schemes.
In order to prepare producers for entry into quality schemes the Aquaculture Initiative
has produced trout and oyster quality log-books. These log-books give producers an
introduction into quality requirements of certification bodies and also ensure full
traceability of aquaculture product on farms. The BIM Quality Seafood Programme assures consumers that the products from the Island of Ireland carrying the programme
symbols meet the highest standards through every stage of production. It assures trade that they can expect the very highest standards when they purchase Quality Seafood products and it acts as the vehicle for communicating quality achievements in the marketplace from production to consumer level.
Quality certification is complemented by eco-certification. In tandem these schemes distinguish the Irish Aquaculture Product on the global market, while positively managing the local environment that sustains the sector. To date there are Quality Standards in place for oysters, mussels, trout and salmon with eco-standards in place for trout and mussels. The Irish Quality Eco-Trout scheme is currently being trialed on a farm in Northern Ireland. The Aquaculture Initiative EEIG is involved in the development and certification of the quality standards and assisting with the implementation of these schemes on individual farms in our remit area.
Article 5 of Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the hygiene of foodstuffs, requires food business operators to put in place, implement and maintain a permanent procedure based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles. Due to the scale and nature of some aquaculture businesses, they may not be required by the regulations to implement HACCP, however such a system is
generally considered to be a useful tool in order to control hazards that may occur in food production, and is viewed favourably by customers. The Aquaculture Initiative EEIG has assisted a number of businesses in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to develop and implement HACCP and HACCP like systems.