FAI technology to benefit scallops, sardines

By

Lindsey Partos, SeafoodSource contributing editor, reporting from Paris

Published on
March 26, 2009

French firm Freeze Agro Ingénierie (FAI) has developed new technology in the war against the pesky slipper limpet, which threatens the health of Brittany's farmed scallop industry.

A new FAI devise removes the limpets from the fragile scallop shell, keeping the scallop intact.

"Removing the limpet is an expensive and time-consuming manual process that promotes a challenge for the scallop industry," an FAI spokesperson told SeafoodSource.

FAI said that after two years of research, the firm has designed a new process to confront the problem.

The slipper limpet, which invaded French shores in 1949, latches onto the shell of the young scallop, impeding natural growth and leading to a smaller, less marketable adult scallop.

Removing the latched limpet, also known as the Atlantic slippersnail, is not only time-consuming for producers, but the process can lead to damaged shells and meat loss.

FAI, which designed its latest invention in response to a customer request, remains tightlipped about the new process: "The technology is confidential and was designed in exclusivity with our customer," said the spokesperson.

France is Europe's largest scallop market, with French households consuming 7,801 metric tons of fresh scallops in 2005. Valued at EUR 66 million (USD 88 million), scallop production in France hit 27,469 metric tons in 2005, up from 23,337 metric tons in 2004.

Additionally, FAI has designed a new technique to individually quick freeze (IQF) sardines that significantly speeds up defrosting times for the end-user and produces a "much better quality" defrosted sardine.

"Sardines are generally frozen in a block, but we have developed a process to freeze them individually," said the FAI spokesperson.

Each sardine takes about five minutes to freeze, with the FAI machine freezing many at a time and keeping the fish straight throughout the process.

On the cusp of market entry, Sizun-based FAI is currently installing their new machine in a Brittany company. FAI's latest sardine technology is the flip side to the firm's defrosting process. Launched four years ago, processors can defrost 10-kilogram blocks of sardines in 20 minutes; traditionally, it takes two hours to do so.

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