Conference PaperPDF Available

Enhancing Seafood Traceability - Issues Brief

Enhancing Seafood Traceability
Issues Brief
Global Food Traceability Center
August 22, 2014
Authors: Brian Sterling1
Marcia Chiasson
Page 2
Seafood is a dominant sector in the global food industry and remains one of the fastest
growing protein sources consumed world-wide. The seafood industry has a history of food
safety and environmental practices that has recently raised concerns from consumers,
regulatory agencies, and non-government organizations. This industry is undergoing significant
transition due to changing global demographics (shift in demand from developed to
developing nations), economic factors (explosive growth of aquaculture), as well as
environmental issues (environmental degradation and illegal, unregulated, unreported
Food corporations recognize that commercial transparency and traceability are critical to
brand enhancement, risk mitigation, food safety, and consumer confidence. Yet, global trade
and complex supply chains make it difficult to consistently identify the origin and history of
many seafood products. Seafood often moves very long distances, in and out of multiple
ports, and changes hands among various brokers, wholesalers, processors, and retailers before
reaching the consumer (Pramod and others 2014; Waage and Kraft 2013).
Efforts to reducing supply chain risks and global competition to source seafood that is not
from illegal, unreported, and underreported (IUU) sources are rapidly increasing the need for
processors, distributors, and retailers of seafood to know and influence their product sources.
At the same time, policymakers are recognizing that “bait to plate” seafood traceability is
key to achieving sustainable fisheries, combating illegal fishing, and ensuring food security.
From both commercial and public policy perspectives, improved seafood traceability has
become a top priority. Currently, only a fraction of wild-caught fish products can be
sufficiently traced to meet these growing demands for transparency.
The costs and benefits of traceability are of significant interest for smaller operations, many
of which do not possess the resources required to purchase and implement a full traceability
system (Greene 2010). For this reason, simple and effective business case tools are needed
to help these smaller firms develop their own payback calculations.
The Global Food Traceability Center (GFTC) has undertaken a project to examine the
importance and impact of traceability as a means for the seafood industry to more effectively
manage the dramatically changing nature of its business. The purpose of this briefing is
provide insight into the issues affecting the performance of the seafood industry and offer
GFTC’s perspective on the utility of traceability in reducing waste, enhancing consumer trust,
and increasing business efficiencies.
Page 3
Production trends
In the past decade, the most significant trend affecting the seafood industry has been the
rapid rise in aquaculture. Global aquaculture production increased from 40 million tonnes
(MT) in 2000 to almost 90 MT in 2012 (FAO 2013). During the same period, wild-capture
fisheries production (both inland and marine) slowly rose from about 81 MT to approximately
90 MT per year. Aquaculture now accounts for 50% of the seafood produced globally.
Capture fisheries production is highly consolidated. China was the largest producer of fish and
seafood from capture fisheries from 2000-2012, contributing 18% of total catch (FAO 2013).
The 10 countries which produce the greatest amount of seafood represented 59% of total
capture fisheries production in 2012.
Consumption of fish and seafood has increased 17% in the past decade, rising from an average
global consumption per capita of 15.8 kg in 2000 (round weight equivalent), to 18.5 kg in 2009
(FAO 2013). Consumption of fish and seafood has increased in all areas of the world, with
some individual country exceptions. Asia, Europe, North America, and Oceania are relatively
high consumers of fish and seafood, with an average consumption in 2009 of 20.6 kg/capita,
21.9 kg/capita, 24 kg/capita, and 26 kg/capita, respectively (FAO 2013). Africa (9.5
kg/capita) and South America (9.7 kg/capita) are relatively low consumers of fish and
Trade Flows
The total global value of imported and exported seafood products doubled during 2000-2011,
from approximately $60 billion to more than $120 billion. A slight decrease in seafood trade
was observed in 2008-2009, which reflected the global economic crisis; however, there has
been subsequent recovery.
China led the world in export value of fish and seafood in 2011, with approximately 13% of
the total global share, valued at $17.2 billion. The top 10 exporting countries accounted for
52% of the total global value.
Frozen shrimp and prawns were the top export in 2011, valued at $9.2 billion. Frozen fish
fillets ($5.1 billion), fresh or chilled Atlantic salmon ($4.8 billion) and canned tuna ($2.5
billion) were important exports in terms of value. A key non-human consumption export was
fishmeal, prepared from either whole fish or fish parts, representing a value in 2011 of almost
$4 billion.
Page 4
Retail Sector
The retail sector is exerting more influence in the global seafood market by increasingly
committing to responsible sourcing practices. Sustainability concerns have been increasing
throughout the supply chain as the impact of industry watchdog lists (such as Greenpeace’s
CATO report; Mitchell 2014) and third party certifications have become more prevalent. For
example, a survey on the European seafood market indicated that 95% of consumer
respondents wanted more information on how to make sustainable seafood choices (Seafood
Choices Alliance 2007). This focus on sustainable sourcing is also a key development in the
European and North American markets (Seafood Choices Alliance 2008).
Due to over-fishing, fish stocks are being depleted while global fish catches are trending
upwards (FAO 2013; Kearney 2010). White fish, oily fish, and invertebrates are the most
commonly consumed seafood. Fish are an important source of good quality protein, relatively
low in fats and may also be a good source of iodine.
Seafood consumption, measured as grams per capita per day, has increased since the early
1960’s, specifically for invertebrates and freshwater fishes (Kearney 2010). The greatest
increases in seafood consumption have occurred in Oceania and Asia, especially China, where
consumption increased from approximately 11 g per capita per day in 1963 to 69 g per capita
per day in 2003 (Kearney, 2010). Compared to industrial countries, developing nations have
also seen higher increases in seafood consumption (Kearney 2010).
The main drivers of consumer behaviour relating to the purchasing and consumption of
seafood are:
Health properties. Seafood is widely perceived as a healthy and nutritious product and
is often deemed healthier than other forms of protein (e.g., red-meat).
Freshness. Seafood freshness is a significant factor in consumer purchasing; however,
some consumers admit they cannot assess product freshness.
Country of origin. This identifier acts as a surrogate for branding and may be
perceived as an indicator of freshness.
Dietary variety. Some consumers are attracted to seafood products as a means of
varying their diets.
Price. Seafood products are widely perceived as relatively expensive, which is a
significant deterrent to purchasing/consuming seafood.
Inconvenience. Seafood products are widely perceived as complex to prepare.
Consumers may be deterred by the prevalence of bones and the smell/touch when
Page 5
Consumer knowledge. Uncertainty about whether the product will meet expectations,
and lack of confidence in choosing/preparing/enjoying unfamiliar species may
influence purchasing and consumption behavior.
Unpopularity with households. Social deterrents occur when some individuals, such as
children and teenagers, within the household do not like fish.
Food safety. Concerns over possible contaminants may deter at-risk groups, primarily
children and pregnant women.
Ecological sustainability - Wild versus farmed. Farmed fish are often seen as lower
quality in the eyes of the consumer, although many cannot distinguish wild from
farmed fish by taste.
Satiation. Some consumers are deterred by the expectation that seafood is not as
satisfying as meat.
Trust in retailer. There is growing consumer scepticism about the information that
retailers provide about seafood products.
A useful definition of traceability is proposed by Olsen and Borit (2012) in their paper “How to
Define Traceability. In their view, traceability is the ability to access any or all
information relating to that which is under consideration, throughout its entire life
cycle, by means of recorded identifications. This is the definition that the Global Food
Traceability Center uses for its purposes.
The risk of food safety incidents, zoonotic disease outbreaks, or the presence of contaminants
can threaten both the quality and safety of food products. The food industry has addressed
the management of food hygiene, safety, and quality through the introduction of
management systems such as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and the
International Organization for Standardization’s ISO9001. However, consumer attitudes have
been negatively impacted by issues such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and high
profile incidents of food adulteration and foodborne illness. The commercial food industry has
been forced to evolve to regain consumer trust; traceability is seen as an important tool in
this effort.
For these reasons, the primary aim of traceability in food supply chains has been to regain or
strengthen consumer trust by preventing or restricting the spread of food safety incidents
(Pang and others 2012). Traceability systems were originally designed as auditing processes to
allow a food product to be traced back to its production facilities in the event of a health and
safety incident. In contrast to systems such as HACCP, which are designed to prevent
problems from occurring in the first place, or quality assurance testing protocols which are
designed to detect problems in products before they reach consumers, traceability systems
Page 6
are typically designed to work retrospectively. This does not mean however that traceability
does not have prospective capabilities.
To be an effective tool, traceability needs to be viewed from this prospective stance.
Traceability systems can benefit businesses and entire sectors from a production, marketing,
and supply chain management perspective. The quantitative benefits associated with
traceability include protection of public health, improved trade, strengthened sustainability
practices, reduced recall scope, increased consumer trust, and quality assurance and supply
chain efficiencies (McEntire and Bhatt 2012).
It is important to note that the existence of a traceability system itself does not guarantee a
product is traceable throughout an entire food chain. Thus, another two important
characteristics are that disparate systems used to manage information at the individual
business level are interoperable and able to comply with open standards of the traceability
system, and that the data concerning the product under consideration can be verified.
Since traceability systems may not be fully implemented throughout entire supply chains, it is
the system itself and the rigor with which it is applied that ultimately determine product
traceability (Clarke 2009). Effective food traceability is an outcome of a disciplined,
professionally managed approach to data gathering, retention, analysis, and collaboration,
performed simultaneously at all points along the value chain. Effective food traceability
allows the creation of financially and environmentally sustainable food businesses and value
chains, by providing the opportunity to create and retain a unique competitive advantage
(Gooch and Sterling 2013).
There are two main categories of traceability systems: internal and external. Internal
traceability systems allow companies to trace what is happening within their own operations,
and are common in the food industry. External (or value chain) traceability systems are more
rare, and require more complex information-sharing systems that allow one to trace what
happens to a product through all parts of the supply chain or a part of the supply chain
outside of one business entity (Magera and Beaton 2009).
Traceability applied
Van Dorp (2002) describes a traceability system from the perspective of information
management, including three layers: item coding (the physical layer), information
architecture (information layer), and planning and control (the control layer).
Traceability systems vary from simple, paper-based records to complex electronic data
systems which can include software, barcodes, handheld readers/scanners, and radio
frequency identification (RFID) tags. Regardless of the way data are collected, stored, and
shared, traceability is only effective when the information transmitted along the chain is
reliable and standardized (McEntire and others 2010; Nga 2010).
Page 7
According to Buchanan and others (2012), the main elements of traceability include:
Definition of traceable entities. External traceable entities may include trade units
(items), logistics units (pallets), or shipments. Internal traceable entities may include
batches (lots). Uniform definitions are key.
Unique identification of traceable entities. Examples include GS1 coding, RFID
tracking, or labels that can be scanned by a machine or read by a human. Uniqueness
is key, so that there is no ambiguity about which specific product entity is being
Key data elements (KDE). Attributes that are recorded and stored; relevant and
accurate information about the product or entity.
Critical tracking events (CTE). The essential steps in the supply chain where data
(KDEs) need to be collected and stored.
Effective traceability
Effective traceability in a food value chain is the ability to identify the origin of the product
and sources of input materials, as well as the ability to conduct backward and forward
tracking using recorded information to determine the specific location and life history of the
product. For this to happen, a traceability system must have the following properties (Olsen
and Borit 2012):
Provide access to all properties of a food product, not only those that can be verified
Provide access to the properties of a food product or ingredient in all its forms, in all
the links in the supply chain, not only at the product batch level.
Facilitate traceability both backwards and forwards.
Be based on systematic recordings of these properties.
In practice, a unit identification system or numbering scheme must be present; without it,
the goals of a traceability system cannot be achieved.
The identification and determination of origin and history of seafood products are made more
difficult by globalization of trade and the lack of international information standards
(Thompson and others 2005). These challenges raise concerns of retail and food service
stakeholders and consumers about the safety of their seafood supplies. Whether the impact of
traceability on the seafood industry is perceived as positive or negative will depend on the
potential market benefits, and the design, management, and marketing of traceability
concepts (Thompson and others 2005).
Page 8
The destination market for many seafood products plays an important role in causing
businesses and companies to adopt traceability. The market influence on traceability can be
tied to regulatory requirements specific for the exportation of products to market
destinations, health and safety regulations, consumer demand for various “certified
products, and product differentiation. Seafood traceability systems have been implemented
for the following reasons (Thompson and others 2005; Hanner and others 2011):
Consumer Attitudes. Concerns over declining fish populations and growing pressure
from consumers to produce sustainable food has increased the number of consumers
interested in third party certifications (eco-labels, such as “sustainable” or “organic”
seafood products). A segment of the market is also demanding industry response to
concerns about overfishing and environmental degradation.
Production/Management Tool. Many seafood businesses and sectors, such as the
aquaculture sector, rely on traceability to improve production and management
practices in order to tie production to market demand. For these firms, ‘payoff’ is the
key driver whether related to increased revenue or decreased costs.
Regulatory requirements. Traceability systems allow seafood companies to meet
general production and export regulatory requirements, as well as species-specific
regulatory requirements.
Market requirements. Some high volume buyers of seafood apply rigorous traceability
standards to their enterprises and demand the same standards of their suppliers.
Illegal Fishing. Illegal, unreported, and underreported (IUU) fishing is a significant
global problem jeopardizing ecosystems, food security, and livelihoods. Vessels
classified as participating in IUU fishing are designated as such because they regularly
ignore domestic and international fishing laws, fish in areas closed or restricted to
commercial fishing, target endangered and at-risk species, and use illegal gear.
Mislabelled Products. The intentional mislabelling of seafood with a product of lesser
value constitutes a persistent form of fraud. Reasons for substitution include high
demand with limited supply, high profit incentive, an increase in international trade of
processed foods, and lack of regulatory enforcement.
The research is divided when it comes to determining what is the greatest benefit attributed
to improved traceability practices. Some argue that the benefits to safety and public health
are deemed to be the most substantial. Others argue that by applying traceability to value
chain management, additional business or industry level benefits are more significant.
These business benefits include (Nga 2010; Sparling and others 2011; McEntire and Bhatt
Page 9
Recall scope. Reducing the number of products implicated or recalled through
improved product tracing practices and more precise data.
Trade. Increasing access to markets and new customers; increasing cross-border
collaboration, visibility, and accountability from food imports and exports.
Value capture. Marketing/branding advantages by being able to trace products to a
particular source (e.g., making claims about organic, wild-caught). Controlling
inventory and supply chain management to increase cash flow.
Sustainability. More reliable product tracing to validate sustainability claims.
Quality assurance. Accelerating and strengthening accountability, quality
management, and accurate order fulfillment.
Continual improvement. Increasing the payback from technology, electronic
communication, and operational best practices.
Gooch and Sterling (2013) reported that the following overall benefits should be considered
the goals of a well-designed traceability system:
Market Benefits. Traceability is often a requirement in regulated environments such as
food and seafood.
Quality and Safety Management. Traceability does not confirm food safety but an
effective traceability system strengthens food safety management capabilities.
Reduced Cost of Production. When traceability is perceived as an outcome of having
effective information and communication systems, the data can be used to reduce
costs while often simultaneously increasing revenue.
Product Recall. Effective traceability systems help companies overcome a crisis
promptly and effectively, narrow the scale of a recall, and can help restore market
The costs and benefits of traceability are particularly of interest for smaller operations, many
of whom do not possess the resources required to purchase and implement a full traceability
system (Greene 2010). While larger operations may see the cost of implementing traceability
systems as investment in their future, smaller operations may view it as a financial liability.
For this reason, simple and effective business case tools are needed to help smaller firms
develop their own payback calculations.
A key point that many businesses miss when assessing the costs for traceability is that they
already have in place many of the processes, systems, and practices necessary for traceability
for food safety and production efficiencies. The existing information need only be accessed
and used differently to support traceability (Gooch and Sterling, 2013).
Page 10
Historically, the aim of traceability in food supply chains has been to prevent or restrict the
spread of food safety incidents (Pang and others 2012). As such, traceability is usually part of
a reactive process and has not been used as much to evaluate opportunities in real-time, nor
to identify and manage business issues. Innovative technologies can be used to make
traceability faster, more-cost effective, and more reliable; and the data captured can be
proactively used for commercial advantage (Huang and Yang 2009; Gooch and Sterling 2013).
Since the 1950s, the physical capacity for catching, processing, and moving seafood across the
globe has dramatically risen. However, these physical innovations have not been matched by
the use of digital information management or verification practices. Most of the processes in
the international seafood industry, including those related to traceability, continue to be
manual, paper-based tools ( 2014).
The recognition that modern information technology and digital records can add value for the
customer, while simultaneously reducing the costs of producing a product or service, has
revolutionized the role of information management in organizations (Porter and Millar 1985).
Today, information drives competitive advantage.
In the seafood industry, however, there is a lack of uniform requirements or standards for
information gathering and sharing that are needed for traceability. This gap is significant and
inhibits interoperability of technology systems along the value chain, and, thus, increases
business risks and costs when choosing and adopting traceability and information systems.
Lack of interoperability also lessens businesses’ ability to partner with other members of the
value chain to increase their competitiveness, reduce waste, implement sustainable business
practices, and innovate in relation to market demands. In other words, lack of
interoperability regarding seafood traceability reduces business profitability and industry
And finally, lack of verification procedures that integrate with monitoring of food authenticity
means that we still may be able to track and trace a product through the chain and yet still
not have certainty that the product is what the labelling and packaging claims.
In the USA, the Gulf Seafood Trace (GST) program is an excellent example of an
interoperable, multifaceted seafood traceability system. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill of
2010 in the Gulf of Mexico increased the need for fishing companies in the area to prove the
safety of their products. In response to this environmental disaster, 1000 individual seafood
businesses voluntarily interact with GST in an effort to increase the market for Gulf seafood.
In this program, electronic traceability is critical for improving the effectiveness of business
processes, and is the only solution to the inefficiencies that result from the antiquated paper-
based systems most often used to track and trace products (Miller 2014).
Page 11
The seafood industry is global and complex in nature, and the industry data that are available
have many gaps. Primarily, international standard practices for collecting/sharing traceability
information do not exist for the seafood sector (Borit and Olsen 2012). The majority of the
North American industry maintains internal traceability and the “one up / one down” external
traceability model. Legislation in the European Union is more stringent, requiring
certifications for seafood imported into the EU in an attempt to restrict IUU fishing practices.
Although China is the major player in seafood processing, there is a lack of publically
available and transparent data. Furthermore, fish exported to China can be re-exported after
processing as “Product of China,” regardless of its original source (Roheim 2008). Traceability
data for other regions, such as Japan, specific EU nations, Southeast Asia, and developing
countries is lacking.
There is a lack of business case studies regarding traceability in the seafood sector and a lack
of a total system approach. The few examples of business case studies are often limited to a
single species or sector; as a result, the findings may not be easily transferable to other
situations (Donnelley and Olsen 2012). Further, investigations generally focus on how
information collected through improved traceability systems improves operations and does
not extend to how the information or technology systems can benefit public health during
trace back investigations. For example, the speed with which records can be accessed and
provided to regulatory agencies is seldom mentioned (McEntire and Bhatt, 2012). This is
problematic since the primary drivers for the implementation of traceability systems have
been from the public safety sector, rather than from a business point of view (Pang and
others 2012).
An interesting area of further study would be a meta-analysis of current published traceability
systems and case studies from the seafood industry which would further inform the
appropriateness of these traceability systems and their applicability in real-world settings and
support the requirements for verification of authenticity.
In addition, there is a need to investigate what and how information can be used outside the
direct setting of the fishing vessel, aquaculture farm, or supply chain.
Challenges for the seafood industry such as IUU fishing and seafood fraud will continue unless
innovative, digital data solutions such as electronic traceability are pioneered and
implemented. The importance of securely sharing product information, making informed
decisions, and creating actionable data to manage risk throughout the supply chain will only
increase during the coming years as companies, consumers, NGOs, regulators, and
government agencies demand more transparency surrounding seafood products. These data
Page 12
demands cannot be met in an environment where information is shared and understood with
manual, paper-based systems.
A new global framework of practices, technology, and standardized requirements is needed to
achieve an interoperable seafood traceability system. Although many of the tools and
practices for seafood traceability are known, approaches remain underdeveloped and
fractured across geographies, jurisdictions, and market sectors. National governments are
reacting to consumer pressures to implement traceability requirements, and there is a high
risk that this will cause an uncoordinated global model that industry will struggle to
implement. There is an urgent need for public and private seafood stakeholders to
collaborate and develop a consensus on how to design, plan, test, and implement a global
seafood traceability system.
Work must continue to help businesses quantify the costs and benefits of traceability
investments. Currently, the main obstacles for adoption of traceability in seafood chains are
cultural and organizational. With the history of the seafood industry and the nature of the
companies of which it is made, corporate leadership does not have a robust understanding of
how traceability can streamline their internal processes and financial performance, and
therefore cannot quantify the benefits of traceability. Services and tools must be made
available to assist these organizations with business justification for investment in
We recommend an approach in which seafood industry and government stakeholders
collaborate to eliminate the causes and incentives that drive ‘bad’ behavior and to find ways
to positively reinforce ‘good’ behavior. In our work, we have seen that active engagement
and cooperation are best practices for addressing tough problems like IUU fishing and seafood
In conclusion, the resources, tools, and technology required for the implementation of
traceability in seafood do exist. It is clear that there are compelling reasons for industry and
governments to respond to mounting pressures to implement traceability in this industry.
The Global Food Traceability Center welcomes the opportunity to serve and assist the seafood
industry and governments in moving seafood traceability forward.
Page 13
Borit M, Olsen P. 2012. Evaluation framework for regulatory requirements related to data
recording and traceability designed to prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
Marine Policy 36:96-102.
Buchanan S, Emmett B, Kittelson H. 2012. Traceability with the British Columbia Halibut
Industry. Archipelago Marine Research Ltd., July.
Clarke S. 2009. Understanding China’s Fish Trade and Traceability. TRAFFIC East Asia.
Donnelly KAM, Olsen P. 2012. Catch to landing traceability and the effects of implementation
A case study from the Norwegian white fish sector. Food Control 27:228-233.
FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Software. 2013. FishStat J - Universal software for fishery
statistical time series. Rome. Accessed 24 April 2014: FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture
Department. Available from:
Future of Fish. Accessed XX April 2014. Available from:
The "IT" Thing in Seafood (no date). View online at:
Executive Summary, Research Report (2010). View online at:
Gooch M, Sterling B. 2013. Traceability is free Competitive advantage of food traceability to
value chain management. SCS Consulting and Value Chain Management International Inc.
Available from:
Greene JL. 2010. Animal Identification and Traceability: Overview and Issues. Congressional
Research Service. November 29, 2010. Available from:
Hanner R, Becker S, Ivanova NV, Steinke D. 2011. FISH-BOL and seafood identification:
Geographically dispersed case studies reveal systemic market substitution across Canada.
Mitochondrial DNA 22:106-122.
Huang E, Yang JC. 2009. The integration of seafood traceability system for shrimp value chain
systems. International Journal of Computers. Available from:
Page 14
Kearney J. 2010. Food consumption trends and drivers. Philosophical Transactions of the
Royal Society B Biological Sciences, 365 doi: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0149
Magera A, Beaton S. 2009. Seafood Traceability in Canada. Ecology Action Centre. Available
McEntire J, Bhatt T. 2012. Pilot projects for improving product tracing along the food supply
system final report. Institute of Food Technologists, Chicago, IL, USA. Available from:
McEntire J, Arens S, Bernstein M. 2010. Traceability (product tracing) in food systems: An IFT
report submitted to the FDA. Volume 1: Technical aspects and recommendations.
Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety 9(1):92-158.
Miller A. 2014. Electronic seafood traceability in a world of risk and uncertainty: The Gulf
seafood trace experience. Food Safety Magazine. March 4. Available at:
Mitchell J. 2014. Carting Away the Oceans. Greenpeace, USA. May. Available at:
Nga M. 2010. Enhancing Quality Management of Fresh Fish Supply Chains through Improved
Logistics and Ensured Traceability. Faculty of Food Science and Nutrition, School of Health
Sciences, University of Iceland. Available from:
Olsen P, Borit M. 2013. How to define traceability. Trends in Food Science and Technology
Pang Z, Chen Q, Han W, Zheng L. 2012. Value-centric design of the internet-of-things solution
for food supply chain: Value creation, sensor portfolio and information fusion. Information
Systems Frontiers. Available from:
Porter M, Millar V. 1985. How information gives you competitive advantage. Harvard Business
Review pp 2-13. July-August.
Page 15
Pramod G, Nakamurab K, Pitchera T,Delagranc L. 2014. Estimates of illegal and unreported
fish in seafood imports to the USA. Marine Policy 48:102-113. Available at: http://ac.els-
Roheim CA. 2008. Seafood supply chain management: Methods to prevent illegally-caught
product entry into the marketplace. IUCN World Conservation Union-US for the project
PROFISH Law Enforcement, Corruption and Fisheries Work. Available from:
Samarasinghe R, Nishantha D, Shutto N, Wanniarachchige M. 2009. Total traceability system:
A novel system by combination of horizontal and vertical traceability systems for food supply
chains. International Journal of Computer Science and Network Security 9(3): 148-156.
Available at:
Seafood Choices Alliance. 2007. The European Marketplace for Sustainable Seafood. Seafood
Choices Alliance [online], Silver Spring, MD, USA. Accessed 25 April 2014. Available at:
Seafood Choices Alliance. 2008. The US marketplace for sustainable seafood: Are we hooked
yet? Seafood Choices Alliance [online], Silver Spring, MD, USA. Accessed 25 April 2014.
Available at:
Sparling DH, Laughland P, Sterling BT. 2011. An Appetite for Traceability. Guelph, ON.
OnTrace Agri-food Traceability. Available at:
Thompson M, Sylvia G, Morrissy MT. 2005. Seafood traceability in the United States: Current
trends, system design, and potential applications.” Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science
and Food Safety 1:1-7.
Van Dorp K-J. 2002. Tracking and tracing: A structure for development and contemporary
practices. Logistics Information Management 15(1):24-33.
Waage S, Kraft T. 2013. It's time to scale traceability in the seafood industry. The Guardian
Online. September 19. Accessed April 2014. Availalable at:
1 Corresponding author Brian Sterling is Managing Director of the Global Food Traceability Center, which is a
program within the Institute of Food Technologists in Washington, DC. Email:
... About 200 countries were reported to export fish and fishery products mainly for some developing countries (Abdullah & Rehbein, 2017). Since the trade flow of fisheries sector is very complex with several intermediaries, it is difficult to trace back the origin of a seafood commodity (Sterling & Chiasson, 2014). Disordered transferring of the fish and fishery products among intermediaries result in loss of traceability informations along the marketing chain, causing safety and quality issues to the final product delivered to the consumers (Sameera & Ramachandran, 2016). ...
... Thus, seafood is highly prone to illegal practices like food frauds, causing deception in marketing (Johnson, 2013;Spink & Moyer, 2011). In addition, practise of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing is also performed for satisfying the escalating demand for fish and fishery products (Helyar et al., 2014;Miller & Mariani, 2010;Pramod, Nakamura, Pitcher, & Delagran, 2014;Sterling & Chiasson, 2014). ...
Trade flow of fisheries sector is very complex with several intermediaries and it is difficult to trace back the origin of a seafood commodity. Thus, traceability limitations could cause safety and quality issues in the final product delivered to the consumers. Decreased monitoring may also increase the possibilities of illegal, unre-ported and unregulated fishing practises. In global fisheries sector, a proper species identification system for identifying and preventing commercial frauds like species misrepresentation and illegal trade is mandatory. DNA analysis is a promising technique for food authentication as it provides increased specificity, sensitivity and reliable performance for accurate specimen identification and species confirmation. Mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I gene (mtCOI) fragments represent one of the robust genetic marker for identification of specimens up to species level. It is a stable genetic marker which could be amplified from fresh, degraded, processed or cooked materials. India is having very limited regulations for preventing improper labelling of seafood items and ensuring authentication for traded fish and fishery products. This study focuses on the applicability of DNA barcodes over fish and fishery products traded at different sectors like local markets, supermarkets , restaurants etc. Samples collected from different stations of Ernakulam district (Kerala, S. India), were subjected to molecular analysis and COI sequences were developed. Among the 62 samples, 34 samples were identified as species substituents and the substitution rate was accounted up to 54.84%. In addition, trade of certain exotic/invasive and illegally cultured species were also confirmed. This study discusses the applicability of DNA barcoding in fisheries sector for preventing food fraud and suggests its implementation as a systematic regulatory programme conducted by governmental agencies for fishery stocks authentication.
... The consumption of fishery products has been steadily increasing in the European Union (EU) in recent decades: EU is the largest single market for imported fish and fishery products, representing 34% of total world imports [1]. The fishery products imported in Europe come from more than 120 countries worldwide and the EU puts high attention on quality, fishing, processing, and traceability along the supply chain [2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11]. Among the quantitatively more important species consumed in the EU, there is the yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), a large pelagic fish that prevail in the tropics and subtropics [12]. ...
Full-text available
The consumption of fishery products has been steadily increasing in recent decades. Among the quantitatively more important species, the yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), is one of the main at-risk species as regards the possibility to present important levels of histamine and to be associated with the so-called “Scombroid Fish Poisoning”. The main aim of the present study was to evaluate the colorimetric parameters, the occurrence, and the quantification of histamine contamination in yellowfin tuna samples marketed in Sardinia (Italy) by a combination of rapid screening and official control methods. A total of 20 samples of yellowfin tuna loins collected from large retailers, fishmongers and local markets were analyzed for the qualitative and quantitative determination of histamine by the lateral flow test HistaSure™ Fish Rapid Test and LC-MS/MS, respectively. Moreover, all the samples were examined to assess the conformity with the EU rules on labelling and subjected to colorimetric analysis according to the CIE-L*a*b* standard. Visual inspection of yellowfin tuna labels highlighted a 30% of non-compliances. A significant (p < 0.05) difference was reported for brightness (L *), redness (a *), and yellowness (b *). The results of histamine occurrence agreed with the food safety criteria (<100 mg/kg) laid down in EC Regulation 2073/2005 in the 95% and in the 90% of the samples with the rapid screening methods and LC-MS/MS, respectively. A highly significant sessional variation (p < 0.00001) was pointed out. Moreover, the two methods showed an agreement rate of 85%. The results of the present study confirmed the utility of lateral flow tests for the fast qualitative determination of histamine in yellowfin tuna. Rapid screening test should be strengthened by comparison with the official method especially in case of uncertain or positive results.
... Moreover, the name and the geographic origin of the fishery product allow to obtain information associable to some safety and regulatory aspects, in particular, to potential illegal fishing practice and to the presence of toxins, contaminant, or allergens that could represent a risk to human health and safety [2]. However, the complexity of the fishery supply chain and the loss of data or misinformation facilitate fraudulent activity in this sector, making seafood the second category of food most defrauded [3][4][5]. Indeed, among the non-conformity accounted for in the fishery sector, mislabeling was found to be the most recurrent commercial fraud (33%) [6]; the voluntary practice of labelling a lower value product as a higher value product is generally practiced for profit. In particular, the counterfeiting of the geographical origin, the sale of a thawed product as a fresh one, and specie substitution are the prominent issue in the fishery sector [7,8]. ...
Full-text available
An appropriate seafood origin identification is essential for labelling regulation but also economic and ecological issues. Near infrared (NIRS) reflectance spectroscopy was employed to assess the origins of cuttlefish caught from five fishing FAO areas (Adriatic Sea, northeastern and eastern central Atlantic Oceans, and eastern Indian and western central Pacific Oceans). A total of 727 cuttlefishes of the family Sepiidae (Sepia officinalis and Sepiella inermis) were collected with a portable spectrophotometer (902–1680 nm) in a wholesale fish plant. NIR spectra were treated with standard normal variate, detrending, smoothing, and second derivative before performing chemometric approaches. The random forest feature selection procedure was executed to select the most significative wavelengths. The geographical origin classification models were constructed on the most informative bands, applying support vector machine (SVM) and nearest neighbors algorithms. The SVM showed the best performance of geographical classification through the hold-out validation according to the overall accuracy (0.92), balanced accuracy (from 0.83 to 1.00), sensitivity (from 0.67 to 1.00), and specificity (from 0.88 to 1.00). Thus, being one of the first studies on cuttlefish traceability using NIRS, the results suggest that this represents a rapid, green, and non-destructive method to support on-site, practical inspection to authenticate geographical origin and to contrast fraudulent activities of cuttlefish mislabeled as local.
... The complexity of the trade flows that characterize the fishery sector makes it difficult to trace back seafood origin (Sterling & Chiasson, 2014). Seafood often covers very long distances, changing hands several times among various intermediaries (brokers, wholesalers, processors and retailers) and this can favor the loss of traceability information along the chain as well as encourage frauds highest volume of traffic, along with that of Genoa (port), Fiumicino (airport) and Malpensa (airport) (Italian Ministry of Health, 2015). ...
The importation of fishery products into the European Union (EU) is constantly rising. The aim of this study was to conduct a survey on labeling non-compliances on fishery products imported from non-EU/extra-European countries, in collaboration with the veterinary staff of the Italian Ministry of Health Border Inspection Post of Livorno-Pisa (BIP)- The correspondence between the products' identity and the scientific denominations reported on the accompanying certificates was checked using the DNA barcoding method. Overall, 277 products belonging to different categories (fish, cephalopods, crustaceans, bivalves, amphibian) were submitted to analysis for species identification. The comparison of the molecular results with the scientific names declared on accompanying documents highlighted that 22.5% (95%CI 17.8–28.0) of the analyzed products were mislabeled. The highest percentage was observed on cephalopod based products (43.8%, 95% CI 32.3–55.9), followed by crustaceans (17.0%, 95% CI 9.2–29.2) and fish (14.0%, 95% CI 8.7–21.9). A higher rate of mislabeling was found in products imported from China, Vietnam and Thailand. This study is the first survey on mislabeling in products sampled at BIPs in Italy. The results highlight the need of implementing analytical checks, based on DNA analysis, on incoming fishery products.
... According to a consumer survey in 2012, Chinese consumers are willing to pay more, to the Eco-label seafood because they recognized importance of raw material information for sustainable future and social benefit [5]. The factors that influence consumers' purchase decisions are becoming increasingly complex such as sustainability, price and as well as food safety [6]. ...
The purpose of this study is to find how to apply food safety approach when the auditor conducts inspections on the site to meet the Marine stewardship Council (MSC) and Chain of Custody (CoC) standards. MSC CoC Standard focuses on trace- ability of food products for MSC certification only. Actually, food safety issue is not mandatory although it is extremely important. So, the auditor would not require collective action about the food safety practices officially, even if they find serious problems on the site. Definitely, almost all consumers want to ensure that their food is safe and sustainable for them. For this reason, we suggest the approach method as a solution based on the priority of standard criteria in perspective of food safety. We expect this study will guide the MSC CoC auditors how to approach food safety when they are on the site.
... The European Union (EU) is the largest single market for imported fish and fishery products, representing 36% of total world imports (FAO, 2016). The fishery products imported in Europe come from more than 120 countries from all over the world and the EU puts high demands on products, regarding product quality, fishing, processing and traceability along the supply chains, which is increasingly important to meet food safety and sustainability requirements and standards (Asensio and Montero, 2008;Stockhausen and Martinsohn, 2009;Cataudella and Spagnolo, 2011;Maralit et al., 2013;Sterling and Chiasson, 2014;Pramod et al., 2014;Aung and Chang, 2014;Parreño-Marchante et al., 2014;Meloni et al., 2015a;Meloni, 2015b;Leal et al., 2015;D'Amico et al., 2016). There are over 1200 species traded in the EU with great diversity in appearance, presentation, quality and safety that must be known and recognized properly by consumers (Stokstad, 2010;Pieniak et al., 2011;Galal-Khallaf et al., 2014;EUMOFA, 2014;Meloni et al., 2015a). ...
... 요소는 갈수록 복잡해지고 있으며, 지속가능성 뿐 만 아니라, 가격, 식품안전 등에 대한 것을 종합적 으로 고려하는 추세이다 (Sterling and Chiasson, 2014 The results of the survey show that food safety and eco-label are very important to consumers when considering consuming seafood products. ...
Full-text available
The purpose of this study is to find food safety approach in the Eco-label Chain of Custody(CoC) which is only focused to traceability. Because, consumers want to be assured the certified seafood comes from sustainable fishery as well as hygienic. In order to this approach, we used Analytic Hierarchy Process(AHP) method as belows. We first understood the CoC criteria for using pair-wise comparison and analyzed and selected each Eco-label certifications and standards. Second, we carried out a survey to the targeted standard Marine Stewardship Council(MSC) CoC auditors all over the world and analyzed the priorities of food safety approach to 4 principles and 12 criteria belong the MSC CoC Standard. As the results, we found out that `Management System` has the highest priority in the principles and `Documentation` and `Keeping Record` are the most important criteria for this approach. In addition, `Training` and `Identification` are also higher priority of criteria. So, we suggested food safety approach method for improvement of these criteria in conclusion based on discussion with specialist in this field.
Seafood is the product most susceptible to fraudulent activities. In particular, the cephalopod sector is affected mainly by the replacement of fresh by frozen-thawed product either immediately or after bleaching with hydrogen peroxide. Such activities undermine the consumers' confidence in the fish industry and in the effectiveness of the government's food control programme. Currently, the conventional analyses performed to check food authenticity are time-consuming and require skilled personnel, and thus are not applicable to on-site control. The aim of the present study was to develop classification models to discriminate cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) according to physical status and hydrogen peroxide treatment among fresh, frozen-thawed and frozen-thawed hydrogen peroxide-treated samples. A total of 669 cuttlefish spectra were collected, under real conditions, using a portable near-infrared spectrometer (902–1680 nm) operating in reflectance mode. Classification models were developed and then validated using a Support Vector Machine algorithm. Performance of the models was tested through external and hold-out validation according to their accuracy, sensitivity, specificity and Matthew correlation coefficient. The best performance was observed in discriminating between fresh and frozen-thawed product, in which were observed in hold-out validation 0.97 in accuracy and sensitivity, 0.96 in specificity, and 0.92 in Matthew correlation coefficient; whereas, an accuracy of 0.93, sensitivity of 0.89, specificity of 0.94 and Matthew correlation coefficient of 0.83 were found in external validation. However, sample classification according to bleaching treatment showed high performance when fresh samples were excluded. Such achievements confirm the applicability of near-infrared spectroscopy to the on-site inspection of cuttlefish and the control of the fraudulent activity of replacing fresh fish with product mislabelled as such.
Since 2014, at a European level, the provisions of Reg. (EC) n. 1169/2011 and 1379/2013, dealing respectvely with general food labelling requirements and mandatory seafood informaton, have been applied. Given that the training of Food Business Operators (OSA) represents a key element for the protecton of consumers, this study was aimed at assessing the knowledge about seafood labelling of 144 OSA operatng at different levels in the fishery chain. This survey was conducted by giving a specific questonnaire to anglers, fishmongers and restaurateurs. The results showed a variable level of knowledge, generally low in primary producton and good in post-primary. However, operators appear to have difficultes in acquiring legislatve principles. It follows that there is the need to improve the training level and to structure specific and targeted training courses according to the categories (anglers, fishmongers and restaurateurs) of operators.
Dal 2014, a livello comunitario, si applicano le disposizioni dei Reg. (CE) n. 1169/2011 e 1379/2013, riguardanti, rispettivamente, i requisiti generali di etichettatura degli alimenti e le informazioni obbligatorie specifiche per i prodotti della pesca. Considerato che la formazione degli Operatori del Settore Alimentare (OSA) rappresenta un elemento fondamentale per la tutela dei consumatori, il presente lavoro ha avuto lo scopo di valutare le conoscenze di 144 OSA, operanti, a vari livelli, nella filiera ittica, in merito all’etichettatura dei prodotti della pesca. Tale valutazione è stata condotta attraverso la somministrazione a pescatori, gestori di pescherie e ristoratori, di un questionario specifico. I risultati hanno evidenziato un livello di conoscenza variabile, generalmente scarso in produzione primaria, buono invece in post-primaria. In generale, risulta evidente una difficoltà di recepimento dei principi legislativi da parte degli OSA. Da ciò ne consegue, la necessità di migliorare il loro livello di formazione e di strutturare i corsi di formazione in maniera specifica e mirata, a seconda delle categorie degli operatori.
Full-text available
Illegal and unreported catches represented 20–32% by weight of wild-caught seafood imported to the USA in 2011, as determined from robust estimates, including uncertainty, of illegal and unreported fishing activities in the source countries. These illegal imports are valued at between $1.3 and $2.1 billion, out of a total of $16.5 billion for the 2.3 million tonnes of edible seafood imports, including farmed products. This trade represents between 4% and 16% of the value of the global illegal fish catch and reveals the unintentional role of the USA, one of the largest seafood markets in the world, in funding the profits of illegal fishing. Supply chain case studies are presented for tuna, wild shrimp and Chinese re-processed Russian pollock, salmon and crab imported to the USA. To address this critical issue of unintended financing of illegal fishing, possible remedies from industry practices and government policies may include improved chain of custody and traceability controls and an amendment to the USA Lacey Act.
Full-text available
While food product traceability has become increasingly important in recent years, there is no consensus on what the term "traceability" means, and several conflicting definitions exist. This paper gives an overview of relevant traceability definitions, outlining similarities, differences, and the consequences of choosing one definition over another. To ascertain which definitions are most commonly used, 101 scientific articles relating to food traceability were reviewed. All the definitions commonly referred to in these articles are shown to have weaknesses. By combining the best parts of the existing definitions, this paper offers a new possible definition of traceability as pertaining to food products.
In September 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asked the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) to execute product tracing pilot projects as described in Section 204 of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). IFT collaborated with representatives from more than 100 organizations-including the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, state departments of agriculture and public health, industry, and consumer groups, as well as not-for-profit organizations-to implement the pilots. The objectives of the pilot projects were 1) to identify and gather information on methods to improve product tracing of foods in the supply chain and 2) to explore and evaluate methods to rapidly and effectively identify the recipient of food to prevent or mitigate a foodborne illness outbreak and to address credible threats of serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals as a result of such food being adulterated or misbranded. IFT conducted evaluations to determine the impact of currently available technologies, types of data and formats, and the data acquisition process, as well as the use of technology on the ability to follow product movement through the supply chain. Results from the pilots found inconsistencies in the terminology, numbering systems, formatting, legibility, and occasionally the language that sometimes required IFT to contact the submitting firm to gain clarity, thus increasing the time required to capture data before any meaningful analysis could begin. However, the pilot participants appeared to have many of the tools and processes in place which are required to allow the capture and communication of critical track and trace information (such as, key data elements) at critical points of product transfer and transformation (such as, critical tracking events). IFT determined that costs associated with implementing a product tracing system can vary widely as determined by numerous factors: the size of the firm/facility, the method of product tracing already in use (manual or electronic), and the range of each firm's capabilities to implement or improve its product tracing system, to name a few. IFT found that there are several areas (such as uniformity and standardization, improved recordkeeping, enhanced planning and preparedness, better coordination and communication, and the use of technology) in which industry improvements and enhancements to FDA's processes would enable tracebacks and traceforwards to occur more rapidly. IFT developed 10 recommendations for FDA to consider for improving the state of system-wide food product tracing. The recommendations outlined in the report will enable FDA to conduct more rapid and effective investigations during foodborne illness outbreaks and other product tracing investigations, thus significantly enhancing protection of public health.
The revolution of Internet-of-Things (IoT) is reshaping the modern food supply chains with promising business prospects. To be successful in practice, the IoT solutions should create “income-centric” values beyond the conventional “traceability-centric” values. To accomplish what we promised to users, sensor portfolios and information fusion must correspond to the new requirements introduced by this income-centric value creation. In this paper, we propose a value-centric business-technology joint design framework. Based on it the income-centric added-values including shelf life prediction, sales premium, precision agriculture, and reduction of assurance cost are identified and assessed. Then corresponding sensor portfolios are developed and implemented. Three-tier information fusion architecture is proposed as well as examples about acceleration data processing, self-learning shelf life prediction and real-time supply chain re-planning. The feasibilities of the proposed design framework and solution have been confirmed by the field trials and an implemented prototype system.
White fish is an important part of the diet of European consumers. The sources of such white fish range from wild caught to aquaculture. In order to provide consumers with better product information about the fish they purchase, information must be recorded in a retrievable fashion along the supply chain. In this study, current traceability practice on board a freezer trawler was modelled, areas for improvement were identified and the attitudes of employees towards the traceability system on board the trawler were investigated. The trawler was shown to have traceability information registered at a haul level. All information was stored electronically, the majority of changes in state of the fish (transformations) were of the transfer type. Traceability implementation was a positive experience for the employees. The information registered by the trawler needs to be used further down the supply chain.
Although government and business interest in tracking and tracing has grown enormously over the last decade, a clear and coherent overview of the topic is still lacking and is not found in (logistics) literature. This article presents a structure for development and contemporary practices of tracking and tracing. The development structure is conceptualised by three supply-chain layers: item coding (the physical layer), information architecture (the information layer); and planning and control (the control layer). On behalf of tracking and tracing, the layers represent different levels of supply-chain integration. The conceptualisation is derived from similar ideas found in literature on supply-chain management. From a scientific point of view, the structure provides a coherent and systematic organisation of tracking and tracing concepts. From the viewpoint of business administration, the structure facilitates the determination of the scope of tracking and tracing application(s), which is of management value.