Consumer Focused Review of the Finfish Food Chain

Date: March 2006

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Our review into the finfish food chain on the island of ireland revealed that despite a highly regulated industry producing a very nutritious food source, the consumption of fish remains low and consumer barriers to purchasing and eating fish still remain.Seventy per cent of people were worried about the freshness of fish, 62 per cent cited possible food poisoning as a deterrent and 54 per cent were unsure about how to cook fish. Other barriers to purchase and consumption included the expense, taste, smell, the presence of bones and the appearance of whole fish with heads and tails.

fishing icons and the fish supply chainKey facts

  • The caught finfish industry is historically important to the Island of Ireland and currently employs more than 5,000 fishermen.
  • Northern Ireland landings come primarily from the Irish Sea and Republic of Ireland landings primarily from the North Atlantic. In 2004, finfish landings on the island were valued at almost €135 million/£93 million.
  • Consumption of fish on the island is low. The North South Ireland Food Consumption Survey (NSIFCS) found that one third of adults on the island do not eat any fish.
  • If refrigerated properly at 5˚C or below, fresh fish will keep for a day or two after purchase or according to the use by date if pre-packaged.
  • When buying unprocessed whole fish, consumers should check that it looks ‘fresh’ by checking for moist scales and bright eyes. Unpackaged fillets should smell fresh and look glossy.
  • Finfish is a highly nutritious food. It is a rich source of good quality protein, vitamins and minerals, and it is low in saturated fat.
  • All fish provide vitamins in the diet, and a portion of oily fish may supply or even exceed a day’s requirement of vitamin D for an adult. Fish is also a good source of minerals, including iodine and selenium.
  • Health professionals recommend that consumers eat at least two portions of fish per week, with one portion being an oily fish such as salmon or mackerel.