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Seafood Fraud – Is Traceability the Answer?

Have you seen the Oceana study on the news which has found that 33% of seafood across the entire United States was found to be incorrectly labeled?
Seafood Fraud
For instance, out of 120 samples taken of red snapper, only 7 were actually red snapper at all. Not a very comforting situation when you realize that we don’t always know if what we are putting into our bodies is really what it’s supposed to be.

This is a major problem which lead the people at Oceana to make the statement:
“Our findings demonstrate that a comprehensive and transparent traceability system – one that tracks fish from boat to plate – must be established at the national level”
Seafood Traceability Implementation Guide
The U.S. Seafood Traceability Implementation Guide was developed in collaboration between NFI, GS1 U.S. and seafood industry stakeholders to provide consistent, practical seafood-traceability voluntary guidance for industry-wide use. It defines minimum requirements and best-practice recommendations for tracking seafood as they move through the supply chain from farms to processors, suppliers, distributors, retailers and foodservice operators.

The 53-page guide includes illustrations and photographs that demonstrate precise “how-to” instructions for use of numerical identifiers, barcodes and other standards needed for traceability.

“The seafood industry has been moving with amazing speed and clarity of purpose on this initiative,” said Gay Whitney, senior vice president of industry engagement at GS1 US. “Seeing their momentum and commitment to using standards, I’m confident the initiative will pay enormous dividends to consumers and the industry alike.”

“A tremendous amount of thinking went into this document,” said Barbara Blakistone, Ph.D. and director of scientific affairs at NFI. “The Traceability Guide is destined to be the benchmark for the seafood industry.”

The Huffington Post agreed with this by making these observations:
“So what is the solution to seafood fraud? Simply put — traceability, or tracking our fish from boat to plate. More than 90 percent of the seafood we eat in America is imported and less than 1 percent is tested by the FDA for fraud. It may seem like a daunting task to monitor it all, but it really should not be. While some voluntary seafood traceability programs already exist in the U.S., tracking our seafood should be the norm, not a rare occurrence.”

While there isn’t a 100% guaranteed solution to tracking seafood, traceability can definitely be done a lot better than it’s being done now. AB&R fully supports the Seafood Traceability Initiative that is being implemented by the National Fisheries Institute and GS1, the standards organization and partners with organizations to make sure labeling meets compliance.
Read Part 2 Durable Labels for Food Safety and Seafood Traceability

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Image cc Flickr via Paulgi