Seafood Processors – Why Traceability?

There is increasing awareness in the seafood industry that the ability to prove what product came from which processor and what boat is important.  The major driving force toward full “Boat to Plate” traceability is FRAUD.

Escolar

Escolar Looks Like Tuna

The statistics are disturbing.  According to Seafood Source, the percent of mislabeled fish in Southern California stores and restaurants is as high as 52%!  Nation-wide the number is 33%.  The errors (intentional or not) include mislabeling the Grade (quality) of the fish and Substituting an inferior fish for a more expensive species. 

When you purchase Snapper in your favorite restaurant, you may be getting Tilapia.  This isn’t harmful – just fraudulent.  But when Escolar is substituted for White Tuna, it could present a health risk.  In fact there are fish that are on the FDA’s “do-not-eat” list that are on your plate either at home from your grocery store or in a restaurant.

How can the Seafood Industry guard against fraud?  By using traceability and labeling systems that cannot be fooled.  In the Fresh Produce Industry, standardized barcode labeling  is being mandated by the US Federal Government.  Cases and/or Pallets must be labeled with a barcode that provides traceability “field to fork”.  It would benefit Seafood Processors to provide the same type of labeling and ability to trace their packages to the dock or boat – if only to protect their brand!

The SIMBA system from Dynamic Systems is one such program.  Its flexibility allows for the processor to continue “operations as usual” but add the barcode labeling and the database for full traceability.  It’s time for the industry to step-up and protect their consumers!

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