Each week, we’re scouring the headlines for the stories and trends changing the food safety landscape.
In this week’s round up: Controversial fishing practices go hand in hand with human rights abuses and food fraud; An appeal to modernize record keeping to reduce food waste; and a survey reveals many food producers don’t plan to change practices in spite of increased FDA scrutiny…but experts say they should.
Transshipping practices in the high seas – what happens when nobody’s watching?
Human consumption of fish is growing and fish populations can’t keep up – meaning the demand can’t be supported much longer. Better management practices are a necessity to reduce illegal fishing, seafood fraud, and the human rights abuses that are often a by-product of the trade. Transshipping, the practice of loading catches from a smaller vessel to a larger vessel (often in unregulated international waters), is coming under scrutiny. A riveting article from New Food Economy examines the practice’s dark history, complex web of players, technology used to track it, and the agencies trying to stop it.
“The ships were crewed by trafficking victims forced to work in horrendous conditions, some of them so malnourished that they died of an arcane vitamin deficiency disease. The workers were visited only occasionally by the ‘motherships’ that came to collect the fish, which ended up in Thai factories that supply to major pet food brands”
Better record keeping to avoid prolific waste issue
New FSMA rules will put pressure on producers to prioritize food safety and ensure processes are well implemented. Record keeping plays a starring role, as the FDA can demand complete records are produced in 24 hours. When records can’t be produced, food (and money) is wasted, and criminal charges can even be filed. Food producers should take this opportunity to review their record keeping procedures. Millions of pounds of food are wasted every year due to procedural issues or loss in the supply chain. Jordan Anderson argues it is an economic and humanitarian imperative to utilize modern technology such as the cloud, mobile devices, and tracking technology for better records – and ultimately, less waste.
“We understand the nature of business is overcoming competition while expending the least capital possible, ultimately leading to profit. However, food-related businesses along the supply chain must ask themselves whether or not they are their own competition.”
Are you ready for the Food Safety Modernization Act?
Food Safety Management Magazine surveyed 100 producers about what changes they may be making as a result of the Food Safety Modernization Act. The survey reviewed attitudes and practices in light of new rules and increased scrutiny. When asked about adding more frequent swab or swabbing in more places; using whole genome sequencing technology; employing attorneys to protect and advise; and even making changes to sanitation programs, the majority of producers felt their current programs were sufficient and had no plans to change. While this has worked in the past, Shawn Stevens, a food industry lawyer advised, “The situation we are in is clearly different [from] what it has been in the past, particularly the approach of the FDA and the prospect of ‘swab-a’thons’ and the increased risk of criminal exposure. Companies need to use new, ‘nonroutine’ methods, both analytical and legal, to navigate what has become an unmarked minefield.”
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