Tag Archives: Supply Chain

Traceability in food manufacturing, Honeywell

Traceability Not a Trend. It’s a Reality.

By Maria Fontanazza
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Traceability in food manufacturing, Honeywell

Businesses throughout the food supply chain are using a variety of traceability tools to capture critical information during the path from the field to the consumer. Traceability has always been viewed as an important capability within the supply chain, but FSMA, coupled with retailer and consumer demand, is pushing it to the highest levels yet.

Technology solutions that provide continuous identification and verification include mobile computers, scanners, RFID and mobile printers. While growers, packers, wholesalers, distribution centers and retailers involved in the fresh produce, poultry, meat, and seafood segments are using these technologies, speculation continues about adequate adoption levels.

The larger food providers are embracing track and trace technologies, while smaller business have been much slower to adopt, according to Bruce Stubbs, director of industry marketing at Honeywell Sensing & Productivity Solutions. “It’s going to be difficult to convince the smaller growers to invest in the technology—a lot of them see it as a cost,” he says. “What’s helping is that the retailers are starting to push back and say they are going to require their suppliers to be compliant with [traceability] mandates and if not, they won’t do business with them.”

Out in the field, companies are leveraging scanning and printing technologies, including smart printing technology (essentially a PC with printing capability). The printer hosts data capture and traceability software, providing the tasks and traceability through the software to the scanning devices. It can capture and print the food traceability label, which contains the discreet information, at the point of harvest. At the transportation level, businesses are using mobile computers to scan and capture product information that tracks down to the details from what part of a field, or even which tree in an orchard, a product has been harvested. Traceability technologies are including sensors throughout the cold chain to monitor temperature and humidity as the product is transported from point A to B. All information moves forward into the production facility and the retailer’s distribution center. Once at the retail store level, grocers will be able to pinpoint, within potentially thousands of stores, the specific batches and lots, a key capability in the instance of product issues and recalls.

Traceability is a holistic process, and the potential for its continued growth within the food industry is high. “I see it becoming more prevalent as consumers demand it, and retailers and manufacturers must adapt. I also see them moving away from paper,” says Stubbs. “We’re close; it’s almost like there’s a trickle in the dam right now, but I really believe that over the next couple years, the dam will break and most [companies] will need to adopt [traceability solutions] or they won’t be able to effectively do business with a lot of the food retailers.”

Stubbs also anticipates an increased adoption of 2-D barcodes versus 1-D linear laser barcodes, as 2-D barcodes can contain far more information. “We are at the tip of those technologies—they exist. It’s just the integration of these systems and providing the information in a format at the supplier or food manufacturer level,” he says.

How is your company implementing traceability solutions? What challenges and benefits are occurring as a result?

FSMA, Food Safety Tech, FDA

FSMA Rules for Preventive Controls Finalized

By Maria Fontanazza
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FSMA, Food Safety Tech, FDA

More than a week after being submitted to the Federal Register, the rules for preventive controls for human food and animal feed have been finalized.

The Current Good Manufacturing Practice Hazard Analysis and Risk Based Preventive Controls for Human Food final rule includes the following key requirements:

  • Covered facilities must establish and implement a food safety system with a written food safety plan that includes hazard analysis, preventive controls, and the oversight and management of preventive controls (this encompasses monitoring, corrective actions and verification).
  • The “farm” definition has been clarified to include two types of farm operations, primary production farm and secondary activities farm. Such farms that conduct produce activities will also have to comply with the Produce Safety Rule (to be finalized at the end of October).
  • A more flexible supply chain program, with separate compliance dates.
  • Update and clarification to CGMPs.

This year’s Food Safety Consortium conference will feature first-hand perspectives from FDA and USDA on FSMA implementation and enforcement. REGISTER NOWCompliance dates range between one and three years depending on the size and type of business. Several guidance documents will be created by FDA in an effort to further help companies with compliance, including on hazard analysis and preventive controls, environmental monitoring, food allergen controls, and the validation of process controls.

The Federal Register will publish the 930-page document on September 17. In the meantime, the pre-publication version can be viewed here.

The Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals final rule includes the below key requirements:

  • CGMPs established for the production of animal food, taking into account the diverse types of animal food facilities.
  • Covered facilities must establish and implement a food safety system with a written food safety plan that includes hazard analysis, preventive controls, the oversight and management of preventive controls (this encompasses monitoring, corrective actions and verification), and a recall plan.
  • A more flexible supply chain program, with separate compliance dates.
  • The “farm” definition has been clarified to include two types of farm operations, primary production farm and secondary activities farm.
  • Feed mills associated with farms (vertically integrated operations) are not covered.

As with the preventive controls for human food, FDA will be creating guidance documents that address CGMP requirements, hazard analysis and preventive controls, human food by-products for use as animal food, and a small-entity compliance guide.

The Federal Register will also publish this 666-page document on September 17. The pre-publication version can be viewed here.

At this year’s Food Safety Consortium Conference, the industry will have the opportunity to hear directly from FDA and USDA on what companies need to know to be FSMA compliant and how the agency will be enforcing the regulation. Michael Taylor, JD, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at FDA, will delivery the opening plenary presentation, which will be followed by an “Ask the FDA” Q&A town hall meeting.

Randy Fields, Repositrak
FST Soapbox

How to Button Up Your Supply Chain

By Randy Fields
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Randy Fields, Repositrak

Donald Bowersox, a long-time business professor at Michigan State University and one of the progenitors of modern supply chain management, once said, “The job of supply chain is clearly a senior management challenge, and it’s one that sits right alongside the other C-level jobs in the corporation. We may call it something different going forward, but basically it will remain the stewardship of moving products from the material origin points all the way through the process of conversion to the end consumers efficiently, effectively, and relevantly. That challenge is a big one and will continue to be for a long time. So I don’t see a next organizational evolution. Instead, I see the supply chain manager becoming more deeply involved in the corporate strategic initiatives and being part of the C-team management.”

Applying this approach to food safety in the supply chain has become more critical during the last few years as a result of regulatory, market and consumer pressures. At the start of this century, only 15 years ago, the food safety director rarely, if ever, interacted with the CEO. Many retailers didn’t even have such a position, or it was combined with quality control or loss prevention.

Now, not only does the top food safety manager have the ear of the CEO, he or she is engaged with all senior executives. Part of this is the result of the Food Safety Modernization Act, which holds those officers personally liable for a wide variety of preventable incidents. Likely bigger causes for the shift are the changing market and the changing consumer, which both relate directly to the company’s brand reputation. And in the food business, everything starts and stops with the supply chain.

Why? Because the supply chain is ground zero for the failures that are responsible for causing food safety problems. And the supply chain is where food safety problems are prevented. It is the choke point or series of choke points that allow or prevent spoiled and tainted product from getting to the consumer. It is also the process by which that unsaleable product is reclaimed so as to ensure it never enters the marketplace.

It is critical for the food safety manager to work closely with the merchandisers and the store operations teams, as they have the relationships with suppliers and work to ensure that standards for everything from ingredients to production are met with every shipment. But it’s even more critical for those professionals to work closely with the supply chain team to determine weak links in the system and address those pressure points before they cause real damage. Without food safety-supply chain collaboration, the risks to a company’s reputation multiply. With it, the likelihood of a food safety incident reaching consumers diminishes tremendously.

It’s becoming clearer every day—if you don’t button up your supply chain, somebody else, namely the government or the consumer, will and the results won’t be pleasant.

Cristin Singer, assurance partner at McGladrey LLP

Security Risks, Protecting Reputation Among Concerns of Food & Beverage Companies

By Maria Fontanazza
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Cristin Singer, assurance partner at McGladrey LLP

In a recent survey of food and beverage executives, nearly half of respondents named product quality as a major risk area and cited product recall capabilities as a priority. However, only about one-third of executives expressed confidence in their companies’ current safety and recall strategies.

Cristin Singer, assurance partner at McGladrey LLP
Cristin Singer, assurance partner at McGladrey LLP

“Mitigating [product] risks starts with tone at the top and leadership within a company,” says Cristin Singer, assurance partner with McGladrey, LLP. “Companies have a strong focus on the diligence associated with quality (especially among employees involved in testing) and building long-standing, trusted relationships with suppliers and vendors.”  Many companies are also increasing their testing of imported products and making sure that their partners are familiar with the cultures of the regions from which they import goods as part of their risk mitigation strategy.

The Food and Beverage Industry survey, conducted by McGladrey, involved 179 executives, owners, and decision makers from food and beverage companies with annual revenues between $10 million and $1 billion.

Respondents consisted of retailers (51.1%), manufacturers and processors (34.8%), distributors (26.4%) and growers (6.7%). Figure courtesy of McGladrey.
Respondents consisted of retailers (51.1%), manufacturers and processors (34.8%), distributors (26.4%) and growers (6.7%). Figure courtesy of McGladrey.

Product Recalls. Some companies are basing their product recall strategy on where they actually fall within the supply chain. “I’ve found that when a company feels that they serve as a middle-man distributor, and depending on the contractual relationship with the co-packer, they look to the processor or co-packer to manage the recall process,” says Singer, who is also a member of McGladrey’s national consumer products team.  In addition, Singer sees a focus on due diligence related to co-packers and suppliers to ensure they have proper certification, and processes and procedures in place to manage risks and recalls.

Ability to respond to reputation risks

Wage and Labor. Food and beverage companies are also facing a variety of wage and labor issues. Larger companies expressed concern with increased labor costs and attracting technical talent; smaller companies are more worried about minimum wage legislation labor costs, and retaining skilled labor workers on the shop floor. Executives also cited that minimum wage legislation and the Affordable Care Act could pose challenges over the next year.

Data Security. As more companies adopt platforms that store sensitive data, the security of these systems is important. Yet only about 42% of executives are very confident that their data and systems are secure from authorized access (about 50% are “somewhat confident”). Improving employee security protocols and providing training, involving data security consultants, and conducting due diligence on vendor data security are among the actions that companies are taking to enhance the security of their platforms. “If there’s a data breach, a lot of sensitive information could be put out there, including product formulations, intellectual property, and employee data (social security numbers or healthcare data),” says Singer.  “Initially a lot of companies on the retail side were focusing on data security. Now we’re educating our clients, especially those on the distribution, processing or manufacturing side. All levels of the supply chain are at risk.”

Randy Fields, Repositrak
FST Soapbox

What Comes After FSMA?

By Randy Fields
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Randy Fields, Repositrak

The initial deadlines for Food Safety Modernization Act implementation are upon us, and while it will be a year or more before companies must comply with the regulations, now is an appropriate  time to consider the happens next with food safety in the United States. Packaging requirements, issues with imports, the move toward clean labels, updating facility auditing requirements, and a wide set of compliance issues will be near-term time-consuming issues for food safety directors and executives all the way up to the c-suite.

FSMA is the most impactful set of safety regulations to hit the grocery and restaurant industries since before World War II. But there are other elements of consumer protection that will quickly capture the attention of supermarket and foodservice executives after August, and smart companies are already looking ahead to ensure a competitive advantage.

Packaging requirements aren’t just limited to country of origin labeling. Consumers are demanding full transparency from manufacturers and the retailers from which they buy their food. Shoppers are demanding clear descriptions of what they’re eating and voicing their displeasure for companies that are not providing the details they want by buying competitive items. A quick look at the comparative sales of the big processed food companies during the last few years verifies this isn’t a fad.

Tainted imported food (for both humans and pets) nearly a decade ago was a key trigger for the legislation that ultimately became FSMA. While the act addresses record keeping and some elements of lab testing, there are still several issues to tackle, including third-party validation rules and the voluntary program for importers that provides for expedited review and entry of foods.

The move toward clean labels or reducing the number of ingredients in processed food is taking form in several different ways. For example, many manufacturers, particularly those that make products targeting young consumers, are eliminating high-fructose corn syrup from their product lines to address consumer concern about the impact the ingredient is having on obesity and other health issues.

Updating facility auditing requirements, at retail, foodservice and manufacturing operations, has been largely left to trade associations and the companies themselves. A single incident of foodborne illness or death linked to a store commissary, a restaurant or a processing facility is all it will take for consumers to demand government action to raise standards and increase inspections.

On compliance issues, FSMA requires companies to collect verification data of their supply chain’s adherence to regulations for up two years and have it accessible within 24 hours. Similar to Sarbanes-Oxley, CEOs are responsible for verifying the compliance of their supply chain under FSMA.  Given these risks, companies have started to automate their management of compliance documentation. Now forward-thinking companies are applying the same technology to ensure that information supplied by trading partners on products such as gluten-free goods or items containing nuts is frequently updated to avoid lapses that could lead to lawsuits and worse.

There certainly are a few different visions of the future of food safety. One commonality is that consumers will continue to demand an even safer food supply chain.  If companies don’t pursue this goal, legal action or governmental regulation will step in to encourage change.

Randy Fields, Repositrak
FST Soapbox

The Silver Lining of FSMA Compliance: Leverage the Cloud to Mitigate Risk

By Randy Fields
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Randy Fields, Repositrak

It may seem counter-intuitive that any government regulation could generate an opportunity for food industry manufacturers, processors and marketers. But that is exactly the case with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Manufacturers as well as your suppliers and customers need to invest in and change some business practices to comply with FSMA regulations, and doing so will enable them to bolster other processes and technologies to further cut costs and help mitigate risks not directly associated with food safety.

FSMA requires food manufacturers and your trading partners (both upstream and downstream) to have the documentation for regulatory compliance readily accessible for government inspection, with specific records required for companies that transport food or are deemed to be the procurer of foreign products. When you add these records to the business relationship records that food manufacturers, your suppliers and customers should already be maintaining (such as indemnifications and certificates of insurance that help manage brand risk), the databases start to become very large, very quickly.

The easy part of FSMA compliance for food manufacturers is with your largest customers and suppliers, because they likely have the processes and technologies in place to ensure both companies have the proper documentation. It’s really the group of smaller customers and ingredient providers, which can represent thousands of companies, that may not have the sophistication to supply the data points required under the law. Collecting and managing the information from these firms can be costly and labor intensive.

The good news is that cloud-based technology now exists to help all trading partners in the food supply chain meet FSMA requirements while working to prevent outbreaks and quickly limiting situations when they occur. This technology goes beyond just storing digital copies of documents—it helps to manage compliance with exception-based alerts for expired, missing or inaccurate records. It can also be the basis of an approval process for new vendors that incorporate record compliance. By linking and automating the management of compliance documentation and new vendor approvals, companies save time and allow for redeployment of resources to more productive activities. 

If you are serious about reducing brand risk, linking compliance management data with your purchase order system will swiftly and effectively accomplish that goal. Holding a purchase order for a non-compliant vendor protects the retailer, manufacturers and the consumer, and communicates a commitment to food safety within the entire supply chain. 

So, complying with government regulations such as FSMA doesn’t have to represent a significant one-time investment in technology and ongoing upkeep. Look to cloud-based technology with an eye for streamlining current processes, reducing overhead and supporting new customer or regulatory requirements.  And, being proactive to ensure the safety of your company and your customers will put you in a position to sell more and grow your market share. 

Unleashing the power of the cloud on Food Safety and Food Quality

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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SafetyChain’s FSQA Tech Talk conversation continues next week with a discussion on why cloud and mobile technologies are becoming a game changer for food safety and quality assurance (FSQA).

As part of an ongoing series that focuses on how technology is being leveraged to solve FSQA execution challenges, the next FSQA Tech Talk session’s special guest speaker will be Michele Eddy, Corporate QA Manager with UniSea.  Eddy will be sharing her experience and insight as to how realtime FSQA data, which is  available, anywhere, and at anytime, is helping to provide sales with immediate quality gradings, better manage HACCP, CAPA, and direct observations for UniSea’s pillars of sanitation,  and how the cloud is making it easier for participants in their supply chain to work together.  Eddy will also discuss use and employee adoption of mobile devices.

The session will start with SafetyChain’s Director of Technical Solutions who will discuss key benefits of the cloud on FSQA, including the ability to have realtime data proactively pushed out and acted upon,  as well as how cloud and mobile devices support FSQA transparency and visibility across the value chain. Also discussed will be common cloud misperceptions including security and employee adoption.

The speakers will be taking questions live from the audience, and FSQA attendees are encouraged to bring their IT folks to participate. Attendees who would like to see what the cloud and mobile FSQA apps look like in action, are invited to stay online after the Tech Talk for a 15 minute demo of SafetyChain’s cloud and mobile solutions. The session is being held on Tuesday, May 19 at 10:00 am PDT, and those interested in attending can visit here for more information and to register.

The FSQA Tech Talks are a part of SafetyChain’s 2015 FSQA Technology Series: “Enabling Technologies – The Food Safety & Quality Assurance Game Changer” – which includes Leadership Forums, FSQA Tech Talks and Executive Briefs. Jill Bender, SafetyChain Vice President of Marketing Communications, said, “SafetyChain has been very proactive these past several years in educating industry on key FSQA challenges such as FSMA, GFSI, cost of quality and more. Input from the thousands of people who have attended our webinar forums was that they’d also like to learn more about how their peer companies are leveraging technology to execute on these challenges – and so the 2015 FSQA Technology Series was born!” “So far more than 1,500 hundred FSQA and food company IT folks have participated in the series, and we’re very excited to continue with fabulous speakers such as Michele Eddy,” Bender continued.

To learn more about SafetyChain’s FSQA Technology series visit www.safetychain.com/2015techseries.

Upcoming FSQA Tech Talks Include:
June 23: Harnessing Cost of Quality
July 21: Conquering HACCP, HARPC and Food Safety Plan Management
Participants of this series need only sign-up once and will automatically receive notice of the next topic and login/call information.  Register here for this complimentary series.

Food Transparency No Longer an Option

By Maria Fontanazza
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As consumers demand to know the “who, what, when, where and how” of products they purchase, companies must focus on bringing honesty to the table to build trust.

Consumers are becoming more informed about the dangers of certain ingredients and the presence of allergens and pesticides in food. In the future, virtually the only way companies can build and retain consumer trust is through providing transparency in the food chain.

“Transparency will no longer be an option,” says John Keogh, president and principal advisor at Shantalla Inc. “Food businesses have to commit themselves to transparency as the only way to demonstrate to the market how customer-oriented they are.” Keogh discussed the need for companies to be forthright not just about what is in food, but also the entire product journey—the who, what, when, where and how—during a recent webinar by the GMA Science and Education Foundation, “Transparency in the Food Value Chain”.

Drawing on examples such as the horsemeat scandal in Europe, trust is quickly lost when dishonesty rears its head. “We need to bring a level of honesty and ethics into supply chain transparency,” says Keogh. This includes disclosing where the product is made or grown, including the state, in the case of the United States; the province, in the case of Canada; and where Japan is concerned, the prefecture. A recent example is Taiwan’s plans to require prefecture labels of Japanese food imports following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster, which has raised significant concerns over radioactive contamination in food.

As the supply chain becomes increasingly global and more complex, several factors are compelling transparency. Regulations that address food safety, security, defense, and fraud will all have an impact. The Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) under FSMA will put pressure on the nearly 200 countries that import products into the United States. According to Keogh, there are 220,000 importers on record, and they have about 300,000 facilities, all of which must be inspected under the FSVP mandate. In Europe, the EU regulation 1169/2011 requires the disclosure of more information to consumers, including mandatory origin labeling of unprocessed meat from pigs, sheep, goats and poultry, mandatory nutrition labels on process foods, and disclosure of allergens in the ingredient list. Companies will also need to consider requirements for Halal and Kosher foods.

Technology plays the key role in driving consumer awareness and demand for more information, but Keogh notes there is a gap between consumer expectations from a data perspective and the ability of companies to actually deliver this data. He offers some examples of emerging technologies that companies can use to facilitate supply chain transparency. Sourcemap is a supply chain mapping solution that allows companies to link from their raw materials sites to the end customers. Companies can generate reports from various metrics and identify the weak links in their supply chain. Trace One is a product lifecycle management solution that has a focused module for transparency. The company also recently announced the first B2B social network for supply chain transparency as well as the full alignment with GS1 standards and embedding fTrace into its platform. Manufacturers using Trace One have visibility on all of their ingredients, suppliers and facilities, and can search for products that may be affected by an ingredient or facility problems related to a recall, for example.

“Food chain transparency has the potential to create new business opportunities for retailers and manufacturers,” says Keogh. Moving forward, companies will need to have a foundation of standards, specifically GS1 Standards, and use them at a deeper level to enable interoperability between the technologies that supply chain partners use. Keogh urges companies to think beyond food safety and food quality to value-based transparency to increase value not just for the end consumer but also for supply chain partners. This will also involve ensuring privacy of data surrounding pricing and proprietary information.

A Supply Chain Or a Growing Spider Web?

By Maria Fontanazza
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The biggest risk faced by the food and beverage industry could be the supply chain itself.

Two proposed FSMA rules, Risk-Based Preventative Controls for Human Food and the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP), place high expectations on companies surrounding their supplier controls.

During a recent Tech Talk, “Tackling FSMA Compliance”, Melanie Neumann, executive vice president and CFO of The Acheson Group, offered advice on how companies can use technology to execute on the challenges they will face under FSMA.

Game-Changing Challenges

Globalization.  “We as an industry are sourcing more ingredients than ever before—more by volume, more by way of uniqueness, and more by way of more countries,” says Neumann. “We have more companies that are playing in the global supply chain, and arguably, it’s a growing spider web versus a chain.”

Importer of Record. These days, companies have to keep track of more information than ever. “That’s where technology can come into play,” says Neumann. “We have other challenges like trying to understand who really is the importer of record, because there’s some regulatory vagueness with respect to that definition.”  Variations, such as how the Bioterrism Act and the FSVP define importer of record, can also cause confusion. “We need to take a deep dive within our organizations and ask, ‘Am I the importer of record? Do I need to comply with foreign supplier verification?’”

Foreign supplier awareness.  Some companies can’t name all the foreign suppliers present in their supply chain, and this is compounded by the reality that some foreign suppliers doesn’t understand FSMA. “Some foreign suppliers haven’t heard of FSMA, and we have a very short period of time to compliance to get them ready if you still want to source from them,” says Neumann. “Technology can help us track back and keep record of the supply chain.”

Stay on top of risk instead of letting risk catch up with you

Keeping track of mountains of information while controlling risks within a paper-based environment is quickly becoming obsolete and potentially dangerous. Having the electronic documentation will help prove compliance with requirements. “Gone are the days where we can manage all these requirements in a filing cabinet. The technological solutions out there can help you put everything in an electronic format that is searchable and at your fingertips in minutes. By regulation, you’ll need the information within hours,” says Neumann. “These systems are building in mechanisms to auto-alert you, so if something looks like it is becoming out of spec or compliance, it will raise an electronic hand.  It also helps you keep and meet the record keeping compliance requirement from both a foreign and domestic supplier management perspective.”

Listen to the entire SafetyChain FSQA Tech Talk


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Untangling the Net of Seafood Fraud

By Maria Fontanazza
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Achieving complete traceability is a must to combating seafood fraud. How is industry getting there?

The length and complexity of the seafood supply chain has created an ideal environment for fueling the mislabeling of the world’s most highly traded food commodity. Considering 91% of all seafood consumed in the United States imported, the ethical and economic impact of seafood mislabeling is enormous. While increased demand is putting pressure on the seafood industry, federal agencies are laying the groundwork to aggressively attack the rampant mislabeling problem.

“Illegal unregulated and unreported fishing is a huge global phenomenon that distorts markets and skews estimates of fish abundance,” said Kimberly Warner, PhD, senior scientist at Oceana, during a recent webinar on food fraud. The goal is to achieve complete transparency and traceability, keeping the “who, what, when, where, and how” with the fish. “Right now when fish are landed, they are required in the United States to list the species, where it was caught, [and] how it was caught. But that information is not following seafood through the supply chain.”

Simply put, seafood fraud is as any illegal activity that misrepresents the seafood one buys. According to Oceana, this can include not disclosing the real name of the fish or its origin, not providing an accurate weight, adding water or breadcrumbs, not declaring the presence of additives, or selling “fresh” fish that was previously frozen.

There are several motivations behind seafood fraud, says Warner. Some businesses want to increase profits and avoid profits; others want to hide illegally caught seafood or engage in trading endangered or threatened species, or mask seafood hazards; and some companies are just ignorant to the requirements of seafood labeling.

The lack of reliable and trustworthy information poses a challenge to consumers who want to make informed decisions when purchasing seafood. While proactive consumers use guides such as  “Seafood Watch”, a program offered by the by Monterey Bay Aquarium, in many cases they still do not have enough information to make a decision with complete confidence.

Supply Chain Traceability

Last month the Presidential Task Force on Combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud released its final recommendations for creating a risk-based traceability program that tracks seafood from harvest to entry into U.S. commerce. The ambitious action plan seeks to tackle the following goals:

•    Combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud at the international level
•    Strengthen enforcement and enhance enforcement tools
•    Create and expand partnerships with nonfederal entities to identify and eliminate seafood fraud and the sale of IUU seafood products in U.S. commerce
•    Increase information available on seafood products through additional traceability requirements

Key dates on the plan’s timeline include identifying the minimum types of information and operational standards by June 30, which will be followed by a 30-day comment period; engaging the public on principles used to define “at risk” species by July and releasing final principles and “at risk” species by October 2015; and building international capacity to manage fisheries and eliminate IUU fishing, with an interagency working group developing an action plan by April 2016.

Bait & Switch: Quick Stats Behind Seafood Mislabeling

•    Red snapper is the most commonly mislabeled fish (up to 28 species were found to be substituted, a large amount being tilapia)
•    74% of fish are mislabeled in sushi venues
•    38% of restaurants mislabel seafood
•    30% of shrimp samples misrepresented
•    Chesapeake Blue Crab cakes: out of 90 sampled, 38% mislabeled, with 44% coming from the Indo-Pacific region

Statistics generated from studies conducted by Oceana in which the organization gathered seafood samples nationwide. 

 

 

How can consumers protect themselves?

Warner’s advice: Ask the folks behind the seafood counter where they purchase their seafood from and whether it is farmed or fresh. If you can, buy the whole fish, because it’s harder to disguise when whole. And finally, if the price is too good to be true, it probably is. “Expect to pay more for wildly caught, responsibly fished seafood,” she said. 

Related content: InstantLabs Launches DNA-based Atlantic and Coho Salmon SpeciesID Test Kits to Combat Seafood Mislabeling