Unwanted substances in Icelandic seafood far below the danger level

At a press conference held at Sjávarútvegshúsið today, the results of a monitoring project that IFL is working on for the Ministry of Fisheries were presented. The results show that Icelandic seafood contains very few undesirable substances.

Einar K. Guðfinnsson, Minister of Fisheries, and Ásta Margrét Ásmundsdóttir, Project Manager at IFL, presented at the meeting a new IFL report on the results of monitoring of undesirable substances in marine products, which was conducted in 2004.

The project actually started in 2003 at the initiative of the ministry and will be continued in the coming years.

The report presented today is called Undesirable substances in seafood products– results from the monitoring activities in 2004 and contains results for the second year of the monitoring. As revealed by measurements in 2003, its results show that the edible part of fish caught in Icelandic waters contains very small amounts of dioxins, dioxin-like PCBs and the ten types of pesticides (insecticides and plant toxins) that were measured in the study. 

So-called pointer PCBs also measure well below the maximum levels in force in our trading partners. The same can be said for mercury, which is measured in the worst case at a level that is 1/10 of the maximum agreed in the European Union.

Read the report


The capelin is cut and cut on IFL

The market for ready-made fresh food has grown rapidly in recent years, especially in Europe, and many have seen in this development the possibility of increasing the value of seafood. However, it may be reversed as it is difficult to use seafood in prepared foods. The main thing that has prevented seafood from being used in prepared dishes is that fish is a very sensitive raw material due to the high proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids that can oxidize and cause bad taste.

In order to make it easier for fish processing companies to meet the demands of the market, it is clear that more knowledge needs to be gained about the stability of prepared fish dishes and the effect of boiling on product quality. Consumers are increasingly demanding the availability of prepared foods, but also want the product to retain important properties, such as nutritional content and taste quality. At the same time, increased requirements are made for freshness and increased shelf life.

Last year began project at IFL which aims to investigate Effects of Oxidation on Membrane Phospholipids, Proteins and Fish Muscle Inhibitors / Inhibitors which affect the taste and nutritional value of fish. The effects of boiling and heating should also be considered as a stimulating factor in the formation of taste defects in boiled cod. The results of the project will increase the understanding of oxidation in boiled fish that causes taste defects and at the same time give ideas on ways to prevent the formation of these taste defects in products.

When allocating from Rannís Research Fund, today it was revealed that the aforementioned project had received a follow-up grant of over ISK 4 million, so it is clear that the investigation of oxidation in fish at full power at IFL will continue in the coming months.

Today, the working group of the project was researching capelin at IFL with regard to the aforementioned characteristics and the attached photo was taken on that occasion. The project manager of the project is dr. Guðrún Ólafsdóttir, but others who work on it at IFL are Margrét Bragadóttir and Rósa Jónsdóttir. As previously stated, Rannís is funding the project, which is expected to be completed in 2008.


Prevention in aquaculture: New report on IFL

The report was recently released Prevention in aquaculture, which is a progress report on a project of the same name that began in 2004 and ends in 2007. The project investigates, among other things, how methods can be developed to analyze and improve environmental aspects of halibut and cod farming in the early stages of farming, ie. from hatching to larval stages, during which time the losses in the fire are greatest.

The project, like the report, is divided into two separate parts: Part A, is called Prevention in cod farming and it is Hélène Lauzon, a food scientist at IFL, who is the project manager for that part. Part B is called, on the other hand, the classification of microorganisms: Probiotic experiments and the project manager of that part is Rannveig Björnsdóttir, head of the Department of Fisheries at IFL and lecturer at the University of Akureyri.

The project is funded by AVS and IFL, but it involves scientists from various other institutions, in addition to IFL, such as the University of Iceland Laboratory of Pathology, the Marine Research Institute's Experimental Center at Stað, Grindavík, the fish farming company Fiskey ehf, the Icelandic Institute of Natural History (Akureyri). and Hólar School.

Read the report


Ministry of Fisheries: The capelin quota increased to 210 thousand tonnes

The website reports that the Ministry of Fisheries has, at the suggestion of the Marine Research Institute, decided to increase the capelin quota for the winter season 2006 to 210 thousand tonnes, or about 110 thousand tonnes. Of this, 103 thousand trains go to Icelandic ships. IFL's branch manager in Neskaupstaður is pleased with the quality of capelin.

Capelin fishermen, shipowners, etc. will no doubt be happy with this news, as many people were probably upset that the season would start this time.

On the website today there is also a short interview with Þorstein Yngvarsson, branch manager of IFL in Neskaupstaður, but he is happy with the capelin that the capelin ship Beitir NK brought for landing, says it is big and fat. It should be noted that most of the country's fishmeal factories are located in the operating area of IFL's branch in East Iceland, and therefore the seasonal mood at IFL in Neskaupstaður when the capelin season starts in full force. 

IFL in Neskaupstaður has three employees.


IFL employee on his way to Australia

Katrín Ásta Stefánsdóttir, an employee of the Processing and Development Department of IFL's Research Division, intends to pursue a master's degree in food science. This would not be newsworthy unless Katrín does not go the shortest way to her goal, but the Earth ends.

Catherine started working at IFL in 2004, after graduating with a BS in Food Science from the University of Iceland. In fact, it can be said that she had one foot on IFL some time before because she worked on part of a large project in food engineering II at IFL under the guidance of IFL experts.

Katrín has previously gone astray in her career choices, for example in 2003 she was hired to work as a researcher in food chemistry at the Vysoká Škola Chemicko-Technologická (VSCHT, Institute of Chemical Technology), Prague, which she says was very informative and fun experience.

Katrín's interest in pursuing postgraduate studies in food science in Australia can be traced to the fact that in 2005 she went on a world trip, including a visit to Australia, and reportedly liked the country and the nation. Does not spoil so that  Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, where Katrín intends to study, offers exciting studies in her field of interest, processing and innovation of food from seafood. 

Today is Katrín's last day at IFL (at least for now) and she is wished good luck in play and work in foreign lands.


Presentation of fish consumption in the present (and future?)

Icelanders are among the largest fish-consuming nations in the world and it is often linked to the longevity and good health of the nation in general, but now there are some glimmers in the air in that respect, as fish consumption, especially young people, has declined significantly in recent years.

At a meeting at IFL today, ways to stay afloat were discussed, preferably to increase fish consumption, especially for younger people, as it is the people who will inherit the land and also the buyers in the coming decades. According to the National Food Council's national survey of the diet of adult Icelanders, fish consumption has fallen sharply in a few years or by at least 30% and most among young people (Laufey Steingrímsdóttir et al. 2003) and this causes many concerns, both health authorities and producers and sellers of seafood.

Declining fish consumption, especially among younger people, is partly due to a change in consumption patterns in general, with an increased supply of various meat products and ready-made dishes such as chicken and pork, pizzas and pasta dishes. Surveys also show that eating habits and family habits have changed significantly in recent decades and this has an effect on consumption habits.

At the meeting held at IFL this morning, Icelandic was introduced project, which aims to promote the consumption of seafood, especially with young people in mind. The purpose of the project, funded by the ACP Fund, is to promote health and improve the image of marine products.

Up to now, work has been done to establish focus groups with the participation of young people, and this has been done in collaboration between IFL and the H.Í. There have also been discussions with fish sellers and restaurants and draft questions for a consumer survey that will take place in the coming months. 

Taste is an e-d that is earned and therefore it is important that children have access to good ingredients from the beginning. With the introduction of canteens in pre-schools and primary schools, it is likely that children will eat most fish meals in such places, and therefore it is desirable that the quality is maintained. 

Access to fresh fish is also different, for example in the case of Emilía Martinsdóttir, who manages the project on behalf of IFL, that about half of all fish shops in the capital area are in the central and western part of Reykjavík and in Seltjarnarnes. On the other hand, there are less than 10% fish shops for the whole of Grafarvogur, Grafarholt and Árbær, where a lot of children and teenagers live. Admittedly, this does not tell the whole story as fish (usually frozen) is sold in most discount stores.

Participants in the project are the Social Sciences Institute H.Í., the Laboratory of Nutrition at LSH and SH-services, as well as IFL. 


Discusses omega-3 fatty acids in The Economist

The prestigious weekly The Economist publishes in the latest issue. There are two articles on omega-3 fatty acids, one of which discusses a study conducted in the UK on the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on pregnant women on their children's development. In short, the study seems to show once again that the positive aspects of fish consumption are many times greater than the negative ones.   

The study, which The Economist covers, lasted 15 years and included 14,000 women and their children. The results of the study, called the Avon study, were presented at a recent scientific conference in London. Numerous studies on the effects of omega-3 fatty acids have been conducted in recent decades, and many articles have been published in reputable scientific journals on their beneficial effects, including for the heart and brain. Articles on this subject in a magazine as widely read as The Economist can be expected to have a wider impact on people's opinions than many others.

According to the author of The Economist, the results of the Avon study should be of particular interest to the US authorities, who have warned against consuming fish by pregnant women, partly because of fears about the harmful effects of certain types of mercury. Dr. Joseph Hibbeln from the National Institutes of Health in the USA says, however, that the study unequivocally shows that the benefits of fish consumption are multiplied by the dangers that can arise from mercury in fish.

Although the author of The Economist points out that one should be careful not to draw too broad conclusions from the results of the Avon study so far, but is clearly convinced of the merits of omega-3.

For those who still doubt the health of the fish, it can be pointed out that research shows that the amount of undesirable substances found in fish from Icelandic waters is far below the reference limit.

Article The Economist


The Fisheries Library is changing

It is now empty to look at the library which is housed in the Fisheries House. Major changes have taken place there since the middle of last year, and at present most of the museum's publications are packed in boxes.

One of the best kept secrets in the Fisheries House, Skúlagata 4, is The Fisheries Library which is housed on the third floor. The museum is the property of the Marine Research Institute and IFL and is a specialist museum in the field of oceanography and fisheries as well as food science, with a special emphasis on fish. Many researchers and students have taken advantage of the museum in recent years and the museum is also open to the public, although books are not available for loan.

The changes include the fact that part of the museum's premises were taken over for operations United Nations University School of Fisheries, which has been operated at Sjávarútvegshúsið since the school's establishment in 1998. The number of students at the school has increased steadily since its establishment and it was therefore considered necessary to add the facilities that the school's students have had at their disposal.

According to Eiríkur Einarsson, a librarian, it is time consuming to pack an entire library together and put it back together, but the aim is for the library's work to return to normal at the beginning of March next year.


Requested for companies that produce target foods

IFL has received a press release from Denmark advertising for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to participate in European network projects of companies that produce functional food. 

The project covers companies in about 20 European countries and aims, among other things, to share knowledge and innovations in this field. The press release states that more than 100 companies have already announced their participation, but that there is room for about 20 more.

Read the press release


Meeting in Sauðárkrókur: Slides on the web

On Thursday 5 January, a large meeting was held in Verin, the new Hólar School Development Center, located at Háeyri 1 by the harbor in Sauðárkrókur. The purpose of the meeting was to present a 6 million ISK grant that the Ministries of Fisheries and Industry have provided to support research in the field of aquaculture, seafood processing and food processing in Sauðárkrókur and at Hólaskóli.

In a report in Morgunblaðin last Saturday, Einar Guðfinnsson, the Minister of Fisheries, is quoted as saying that "the future is bright in Skagafjörður and the Development Center will certainly produce significant research and discoveries for the benefit of the Icelandic fishing industry."

IFL has for a long time operated four branches in the countryside and has therefore long focused on strengthening its research in the countryside. IFL has recently placed increased emphasis on strengthening co-operation with higher education institutions anywhere in the country.

A co-operation agreement is in force between IFL and Hólar University for research, and an IFL employee is part-time teaching at the school. It is clear that the financial support of the ministries will significantly support the development of IFL in Skagafjörður. In the news Mbl. says that it is planned to strengthen the collaboration even further with a special collaboration agreement on research and development in the field of aquaculture, natural sciences and food processing, where it is expected that the University of Iceland and the University of Akureyri will be parties to this agreement. Seafood.  

Here are some slides that the speakers at the meeting supported, but the agenda of the meeting was as follows:

Address - Einar K. Guðfinnsson, Minister of Fisheries

2.  AVS Research Fund - Friðrik Friðriksson

3.  IFL in the North - Sjöfn Sigurgísladóttir Rf

4. Co-operation between FISK hf. at schools and research institutes - Jón Eðvald Friðriksson, managing director

5.  Aquaculture and research at Hólar University - Helgi Thorarensen, Hólar School

6.  Feed and fire - Rannveig Björnsdóttir IFL and the University of Akureyri

7.  Protein from seafood and water reuse in aquaculture - Ragnar Jóhannsson, IFL and Hólaskóli

8. Cooperation and development in Sauðárkrókur, Skúli Skúlason - Rector of Hólar University