Seafood DNA Traceability Programme to Guarantee Greater Levels of Transparency

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Seafood DNA Traceability Programme to Guarantee Greater Levels of Transparency

Seafood DNA Traceability Programme to Guarantee Greater Levels of Transparency
March 21
09:25 2017

A first-ever ‘farm to fork’ programme for shrimp production has been announced, offering consumers DNA based assurance on the origin and quality of shrimp. Through enhanced transparency the TraceBack programme will also help promote ethical labour practices, which have been highlighted in the global shrimp industry.

The technology offering – already available in animal meat – has been developed by DNA tracing company IdentiGEN in partnership with international seafood producer Seafresh. The traceable shrimp will be sold at Marks and Spencer outlets in the UK, the first time such an offering has been brought to the consumer.

IdentiGEN Co-Founder and Director Ronan Loftus says that shrimp are globally sourced and the application of DNA TraceBack to the industry brings a further degree of accountability to production and labour practices, which are increasingly being demanded by both retailers and the consumer.

“With its complex and global supply chain, the shrimp industry has been subject to high profile controversy in recent years for poor quality, excessive use of antibiotics and reports of human trafficking, slave and child labour,” he says. “This programme will give guaranteed transparency to both retailer and consumer that what they are buying is sourced from approved sources and meets highest standards in terms of production practices.”

He points out that recent scientific advances in DNA technology has made traceability deliverable at a large scale, enabling its expansion into the seafood sector.

He elaborates: “A sample taken from a female shrimp can be used to trace all of its progeny (hundreds of thousands of shrimp) back to its farm of origin with unprecedented accuracy – through the use of ‘Natures Barcode’. This makes DNA sampling and TraceBack of large numbers of shrimp from the fork back to their exact farm of production possible and cost efficient. The system can also be used to trace shrimp post cooking, or further processing, where considerable co-mingling of production from different sources can occur.”

The programme is currently being operated by Seafresh which is producing the shrimp in Central America, processing in the UK and supplying to Marks and Spencer.

Seafresh CEO Lasse Hansen says: “We are delighted to partner with IdentiGEN and our customers on this exciting new era for shrimp traceability. Our industry has been dogged by claims of child labour, poor production practices and use of unapproved feeding regimes. The unprecedented levels of supply chain transparency will help us convey more effectively to our customers and the consumer the care we take to meet the growing consumer expectations for a top quality, sustainable and ethically sourced shrimp supply.”

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