AQUA NEWS

ASC STEPS UP SEAFOOD FRAUD SECURITY

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) has launched a chain of custody (CoC) module, which aims to address issues such as seafood fraud and mislabelling, food safety and use of antibiotics, and to increase opportunities for physical product checks. The additional requirements, which are being introduced following a series of development steps including a public consultation period, are part of a new suite of assurance procedures and tools that reflect responsible practice and including provision for use of digital traceability and innovative product authentication techniques. Currently, processors, traders and other supply chain companies handling ASC certified products are audited against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) chain of custody standard. The new requirements set out in ASC’s CoC module are additional to the MSC CoC Standard and apply only to ASC farmed seafood products. Once the new module is effective, companies will be required to undertake a streamlined audit against both the MSC CoC Standard and the new ASC CoC module. The process is not anticipated to be onerous for CoC certified businesses or new applicants, with a maximum of nine additional clauses to be addressed at audit and a minimum of two, depending on individual company circumstances. The module was significantly revised in response to public consultation feedback to minimize impacts on supply chain companies and auditors. “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,” said Wendy Banta, head of supply chain assurance, in a press release. The new requirements will form part of ASC CoC audits starting from 30 May 2023. The one-year period until the effective date will allow certificate holders and conformity assessment bodies (CABs) who are responsible for undertaking audits, to prepare for implementation.