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Fish industry ISO will improve traceability and recalls - developer

By Mark Astley , 17-Jan-2012
Last updated on 17-Jan-2012 at 12:39 GMT

Unique identification measures being promoted by new fish industry traceability standards will simplify contamination trace backs and recalls, the standards’ developer has claimed.

The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) standards, based on similar European ideals designed around 10 years ago, have been developed to improve the information exchange throughout the fish and seafood supply chain.

ISO 12875:2011 and ISO 12877:2011, which apply to wild and farmed fish, specify which data elements must be recorded throughout the fish production chain – including processing, transport and distribution.

The standards were designed to provide a “common format”, through which the industry can exchange information.

The new ISO standards work in very much the same way as the original TraceFish standards – with unique identification being one of only a few added measures.

Unique identification

“To a large degree, the TraceFish standard supported good practice in the fishing industry, and most elements were already recorded, with the exception of unique identification - a fundamental requirement of the ISO standards,” Norfima senior scientist Petter Olson told FoodProductionDaily.com.

“Many food processors produce 10,000 boxes of fish or seafood a day and many are marked in the same way - if you do this you will lose traceability.”

“If you follow the standard it will be much easier to trace a contamination, making it much easier to carry out a recall.”

In addition to advanced traceability, the standards can offer food processors savings – particularly in the processing and storage stage of the supply chain.

According to Olsen, who led the ISO workgroup designing the standard, companies who invested in similar standards have reported savings.

“We’ve have received interesting feedback in relation to standards of this nature, with companies reporting significant savings in processing and storage.”

"They’re all reporting faster throughput and less being spent on storage.”

Standard not requirement

The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) is a leading developer and publisher of voluntary international standards.

However, many countries adopt the standards as statutory requirements.

The TraceFish standard, on which the new ISOs have been based, was not adopted significantly across Europe when it was initially developed, despite being designed for the market.

It was, however, popular elsewhere – particularly in Asia where countries such as Japan and Vietnam adopted the standards.

Countries such as Japan and Vietnam adopted these EU standards, and that is one reason that we went through the ISO,” said Olsen.

“I don’t think the standard will become a requirement in the EU, but it may elsewhere.”

“What the standard will ensure is improved documentation – the information will be available in a more structured way,” he concluded.