Traceability – needs must for all seafood products
I have to say over the last few weeks, as we have been promoting our new range of ‘responsibly sourced’ seafood items, I have been getting a little frustrated by purchasing officers of various brands, asking for ‘the sustainable certificate’ for certain fishes. I have spent a long time directing them to various sustainable seafood accreditation websites, most notably MSC, and also directing them to our own website as well as providing both hard and soft copy information. It seems I have been on a loosing battle, because the same question still comes.
I have therefore decided to provide a succinct lesson on traceability, which is basically what this is all about. It is how we can prove two major and important points. One, where the fish and/ or seafood originally came from and that it was a sustainable source and Second, that it is not contaminated with alternate, products being safely handled through the supply chain from source to end user. This is so important in the notion of sustainability and well for health and safety. The process is called ‘the chain of custody’.
The concept is very simple. Each participant in the supply chain is annually approved and audited to show that they comply. For instance, I purchase my seafood from a distributor in Norway, who buys from a fisherman in Norway, who fishes in an accredited area of Ocean. The fishermen provide details of his catch to his Government and is generally given a catch certificate to show that it came from that location. Each carton of product is labelled and registered. The distributor will then take a number of those cartons from the fisherman, say ten, and pass those ten onto me. Ten registered cartons must be seen as coming in and going out. I can then sell those cartons to individual clients. The fisherman, the distributor and I all keep records. We are audited. This is the secure chain. The ‘Chain of custody’.
So, I am accredited by MSC, for instance, to carry products. If a client buys from me, the carton will be labelled and because it comes from us, we guarantee the product is sustainable. We can show this through a paper chain. Simple. The chain offers proof of the sustainability of the product but that it is safe, it has been handled by trust worthy and accredited companies. It is like block chain.
I do believe that customers need to force suppliers like ourselves to show the chain. It should be and can be readily available. If a supplier cannot prove proof of the chain, then find one that can. You can make a difference. Does it not make sense to do so?
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