ASC launches a new module to avoid seafood fraud

Man worker holding tablet computer checking production line dairy factory food industry. Copy space banner.
Man worker holding tablet computer checking production line dairy factory food industry. Copy space banner.

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) has launched a Chain of Custody (CoC) module to avoid seafood fraud and mislabelling, food safety, and use of antibiotics, and to increase opportunities for physical product checks. Thereby, it will strengthen the current assurance system.

Now, companies that hand ASC-certified products are already audited against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Chain of Custody Standard. The new module includes new requirements added to the MSC CoC Standard that apply only to ASC farmed seafood products.

More precisely, ASC has detailed that the process is not anticipated to be onerous for CoC-certified businesses or new applicants. So, a maximum of nine additional clauses will be addressed at audit and a minimum of two, depending on individual company circumstances.

The organization has "significantly" revised the module in response to public consultation feedback. Also, to minimize impacts on supply chain companies and auditors. ASC gives certificate holders and conformity assessment bodies (CABs) one year until the effective date to prepare for implementation.

Additional requirements

Firstly, the additional requirements include Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) recognized scheme certification by the supply chain companies involved in processing, contract processing, packing, or repacking. The alternative can be to achieve ISO 22000 certification.

On the other side, ASC has exempted small companies. Although, they must still comply with food safety regulations and work towards certification through improved programs for GFSI-recognised schemes.

Besides, the module has integrated a defined list of ineligibility criteria. This will allow ASC and certifiers to disconnect from companies involved in unacceptable practices. For example, illegal or fraudulent activities, or unethical behavior. Furthermore, certifiers will have to increase the use of unannounced audits to get a more accurate picture of daily operations. 

Regarging this, Wendy Banta, Head of Supply Chain Assurance, said: "Our aim is to improve the integrity of ASC certified products. To apply a risk-based approach to potential integrity issues in the supply chain, and to strengthen response procedures when issues occur."

"We are confident that the new package of requirements in the ASC Chain of Custody Module will provide greater value. Also, a higher level of assurance to program participants and customers who rely on the ASC logo," she concluded.

In addition to all this, to show the facts of sustainable aquaculture to consumers, ASC launched in March its largest public-facing marketing campaign.

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