Remote Fish Quality Assessment Training | Onshore training | Seafish

Remote fish quality assessment training is an unexpected success story

Lee Cooper, Seafish National Learning & Standards Manager explores the successes of our remotely delivered fish quality assessment training programme.

In August 2020 we launched a new half day training course, delivered remotely using Zoom. The course was the most unlikely of programmes to deliver using a video link as it was the principles of fish quality assessment. It was bit of a leap of faith. Could we deliver this kind of programme without candidates being able to taste, smell or touch the fish? Now 14 months later we can say with assurance that the answer to that question is yes we can.

Peter at Whitby Seafoods completes his fish tasting practical exercise

Here at Seafish, we have a long history of delivering training in quality assessment and over the years many members of staff were trained at the Torry Research Station, Aberdeen in assessment techniques. The phrase "Torry Trained" has a special meaning in the seafood industry as it denotes a small band of seafood experts who are graduates of that in depth training programme from Aberdeen back in the 70s, 80s and early 90s.  

One of our approved trainers, Adrian Barratt, is Torry Trained and he is at the centre of our support for quality assessment training. Adrian was pivotal when we developed our introductory, intermediate and advanced fish quality assessment courses, and has been responsible for delivering every one of our advanced courses in Scotland, Wales and England. Through that advanced five day training course we have been able to train practitioners from across the UK and overseas, and some of those practitioners are Seafish approved trainers able to offer our one-day Introductory programme. 

This was the state of affairs until March 2020 when we had to stop all face to face training. Go forward to August and we have a very different type of course on offer. The principles of fish quality assessment training course took flight on the 27th August 2020 as a half day remote programme that covered the theory of assessing the quality of fish, but in a way that could then be put into practice.

I’d recommend the course for anyone looking to increase their skills in assessing fish quality
Christine Blanchard, Head of Technical, Whitby Seafoods Ltd

The course focusses on the Torry schemes but also addressed the detail of the Quality Index Method (QIM) and EU grading systems. The course is delivered by Adrian Barratt and administered by Paul Neve. It was an almost instant success with those in the industry that needed to assess whole fish. After a few months we developed a variation on the original course. The variation looked at the cooked Torry schemes, the schemes that are commonly used to assess fillets and part processed fish, as without the gills and eyes it is impossible to apply QIM and difficult to apply Torry (Raw) schemes.

To date, after 14 months we have delivered 14 principles courses and trained 121 persons including fish inspectors, fish friers, mongers and processors. Our raw training course is supported by an extensive online assessment and the cooked course has its own post course practical assignment.

Coincidently our 1000th learner is an environmental health officer (EHO) who undertook the principles of fish quality assessment course in October. Follow the link below to read our 1000th learner completes remote training programme blog to find out more. 

Feedback from course attendees is very positive and this is what one recent group of trainees had to say.

"Four of the Technical team at Whitby Seafoods recently attended the Seafish Principles of Fish Quality Assessment (cooked) training course. Our main business is scampi and the team are very experienced in quality assessment of the scampi raw material and products.

We wanted to replicate that expertise in fish and Seafish were the ideal partners to provide this. Seafish have adapted their training courses to meet Covid restrictions so we had an online fish quality assessment training session followed by instructions on how to carry out a practical taste assessment on site.

The remote trainers were very knowledgeable about fish quality and provided clear information on how to assess fish quality and different kinds of deterioration. They also answered a number of questions from the team about issues they had seen with fish in the past giving great insight as to the causes.

The practical assessment instructions were easy to understand and the tasting session using the Torry scale really helped the team in identifying and describing the sensory characteristics of the fish. The feedback from the team was that they felt much more confident in identifying if any future fish deliveries are out of specification and better able to describe the issues to our suppliers.”

Principles of fish quality assessment is just one of the ways in which we are delivering seafood specific training programmes to the UK seafood industry. As our programmes are currently subsidised there’s no better time to find out more. Contact or view the onshore training content.