EVER STRUGGLED to understand what the different certification schemes for sustainable seafood are about and how they compare? Help is at hand.
Seafish has launched “A Guide to Seafood Standards”, an interactive online tool that allows food businesses to compare and contrast 16 different certification standards that apply to fish and shellfish supplied in the UK.
The guide provides detailed information on all the certification schemes currently relevant to seafood, many of which also appear on product labelling and menus. The interactive tool describes how each standard is applied and the criteria used to measure factors such as food safety, environment, animal and social welfare.
The launch of the guide follows the Marine Conservation Society's reclassification of mackerel just five months after it was removed from the safe to eat list – just one example of how confusing sustainability ratings can be for consumers and industry said Seafish chief executive Paul Williams.
“We hope that by providing more information this new guide will increase understanding of this important facet of our industry and so help to 'demystify' the schemes for users.
"Standards are a vitally important way of certifying performance against set criteria, although as yet there is no statutory requirement for equivalence and the schemes vary in the factors they cover.”
The tool does not assess the schemes and is only a “simple comparison tool”, a Seafish spokeswoman added. However, there is a wider review of certification standards for seafood currently underway in the form of the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative.
Mike Berthet, director of fish and seafood at M&J Seafood was among those to welcome the new tool. “It's vital that we support any work which helps to de-mystify the complex subject of sustainable seafood for both our customers and the foodservice industry,” he said.
Eco-label confusion is not just restricted to seafood. According to research by the British Frozen Food Federation there are in excess of 100 “green” schemes available. “Consumers are confused by labels and the ever increasing pressure from regulators to put even more information on packs, that are barely understood currently, is misplaced,” said director general Brian Young.