Article By Stevens Traceability Systems Ltd: How Seafood Traceability Can Help Fish Processors Thrive

Article By Stevens Traceability Systems Ltd: How Seafood Traceability Can Help Fish Processors Thrive

Stevens Traceability Systems Ltd (United Kingdom) - When operating in the seafood industry, you are obliged to ensure that fish is traceable from the point it’s caught through to the point it is sold to a consumer. The exception to this is fish or shellfish that is sold from fishing vessels directly to consumers, with a value of up to 50 euros – these are excluded from seafood traceability requirements¹.

In this article, we explore more about food traceability and what that means in practice for seafood businesses.

What is seafood traceability?

Seafish, a non-departmental public body states…

“Seafood traceability is the ability to fully trace a product from the point of sale back to its point of origin…”

There is a responsibility for all parties involved in the supply chain to responsibly record, store, and provide information so that forward and backward traceability can be achieved when needed and traceability records can be provided at all stages.

When seafood reaches shore via a vessel, the traceability process begins and can be split into two stages:

  • On Landing
  • Post Landing

On landing, it is imperative that the vessel is identifiable with the products it supplies i.e., name of vessel and details of the product(s) delivered (see below for more information about product traceability information).

Post-landing, the traceability process can begin by completing several statutory documents including:

  • Log sheets
  • Transport documents (Landing declaration)
  • Takeover document

As the fishery products begin their journey moving towards the retail point of sale, they will go through several stages including:

  • Landing
  • Weighing
  • Takeover
  • Transport
  • First sale

It is also important that information is recorded throughout these stages of the supply chain.

Below we will explore the types of traceability information which must be obtained and recorded to meet legislative requirements.

Seafood traceability legislation:

The Council Regulation (EC) number 01224/2009 provides fisheries control measures with further implementation measures under Regulation 04/2011.

As described above, seafood businesses have a responsibility to store, manage, record, and supply data throughout the supply chain, including:

  • Lot number
  • Name of the fishing vessel or unit
  • FAO species code
  • Date of catch or period over which caught
  • Quantity
  • Date of supplier
  • Commercial designation
  • Scientific name
  • Catch area and production method

Additionally, the following information must be made available to the consumer:

  • Commercial designation
  • Species scientific name
  • Catches area
  • Production method
  • Has it been frozen previously

Benefits of seafood traceability:

In addition to the legal requirements of having a traceability system in place, there are other benefits for seafood businesses including:

Peace of mind and Customer Trust:

By having a traceability system in place, seafood businesses are demonstrating their commitment to safe, quality products for consumers, which in turn gives customers reassurance and peace of mind about the seafood products they buy.

In addition, this can also apply to trade customers who want to work with conscious businesses that promote best practices in food safety and quality.

Financial Gains through Business Efficiency:

A robust traceability process also enables seafood businesses to benefit from accurate supply chain records which can also lead to improved inventory management. Having easy access to documentation and information means that employees are more efficient, saving time and reducing labour costs.

In addition, having stringent quality control processes in place as well as stringent weighing processes can help to reduce waste and save costs in the long term.

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