Food traceability in general, is an important aspect of public health policies to effectively address contaminated, defected or ill products, as well as to decrease food losses and waste.
This requires the collection of accurate data, which have been recorded throughout different stages of the supply chain and can be tracked, recalled and made available easily. Businesses opt for different traceability solutions, in terms of paper-based, electronical and digital formats. Standardised, digitalised and harmonised systems which allow for interoperability across different stages of the supply chains increase transparency and public access to data.
The implementation of traceability rules in fish, aquaculture and seafood supply chains is subject to legislation in the EU, as well as in many other jurisdictions. In addition to general traceability rules as part of Regulation EC 178/2002 - General Food Law, the Fisheries Control Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009) requires more specific information to be made available to the public such as a detailed fishing log book including identification number and the name of the fishing vessel, species code, date of the catch, quantity, date of departure from and arrival to port, type of gear used, FAO fishing /catch area, water of origin for fish caught in freshwater and commercial designation.
Video statement by Britta Gallus, Head of Corporate Responsibility, METRO AG
Keeping up with the complexity of these data flows necessitates efficient, secure and accurate traceability requirements. Digital interoperable systems allow for such precise and robust data. In reality most data in seafood operations are recorded on paper and not passed along the chain. This can result in inaccurate and fragmented data and unreported, unregulated, and even illegal fish catches with unlabeled and/or mislabeled products. Additionally, data access in real-time is not possible.
As one of the biggest fish traders in Europe, METRO is aware of its responsibility and is specifically committed to the sustainable procurement of goods. With our digital traceability solution PRO TRACE, we create transparency and promote the safeguarding of fish stocks for the future, also the fight against illegal fishing. PRO TRACE provides lot-based information, is based on harmonized GS1 standards and applicable beyond fish & seafood.
Currently, the EU Fisheries Control Regulation is under revision and being negotiated between the European Commission, Council of the EU and the European Parliament. In order to ensure sustainable seafood products and fisheries management systems we are calling to all stakeholders involved to acknowledge a digital traceability approach to ensure a transparent supply chain.
The revision of the Fisheries Control Regulation is a one-time opportunity to provide reliable information to public authorities as well as consumers. Considering possible solutions for small traders, who cannot digitalise their operations immediately, the signatories of the statement see the potential in the evolution of the sector for better risk management and other efficiencies. With the right regulatory approach, we can tackle all the challenges and create the positive impact that the sector needs.