Supermarket Perimeter - April 2020 - 50

Food safety

Seafood
BY ANDY NELSON

50 - APRIL 2020

SP_Apr20.indb 50

Finding the right partners
Blue Circle Foods, Washington, D.C., only partners with farmers and
processing facilities that not only meet the company's high sustainability standards but also its equally stringent food safety standards, says
Nina Damato, the company's supply chain manager.
"That means that when we look at partnering with facilities around
the world, we review their third-party audits and their food safety certification to make sure they're not only third-party certified but also very
highly rated," she said.
One of Blue Circle's top products is smoked salmon. It's a product
that takes a lot of attention to bacteria levels and a myriad of other
details, and so how processing facilities are treating it is critical, Damato
said. Blue Circle and its partners apply that same laser focus to all seafood products they work together on.
"When we work with any partner we're constantly in very close communication about all the layers of safety," she said. "We visit the facility
to view in detail what's happening. The partners we work with have the
ability to test bacteria in the facility both inhouse and at a third-party lab."
It's crucial that facilities are cleaned thoroughly after every production run to ensure that bacteria are kept at bay, Damato said.
To maintain an airtight lid on bacteria, Blue Circle and its partners
swab and test thousands of samples every year, Damato said. The
company also utilizes a lotting system, through which it's able to track
all products that come in.
"We're able to take control over every product from the farm all the way
through to the actual product in the package, which is great," she said.
And for those occasions when bacterial infections do occur, processors must have a quality control department that really understands
what is going on and how to address it, Damato added.

PHOTOS: BLUE CIRCLE

COOKING SEAFOOD IS ALREADY A CHALLENGE for many consumers. Add to that concerns about bacteria, mercury and other food
safety-related issues, and the seafood equation becomes even more
complicated.
But much of the concern is hype. Seafood, when sourced from the
right areas and handled properly, is among the safest fresh foods in the
industry. The industry has a stellar record, for instance, on toxin levels.
Seafood producers and those further down the supply chain are
working hard to get that message out to consumers, with increasing
success.
Much of the seafood sold in the US comes from Norway under
the Seafood from Norway banner. Norwegian authorities, research
institutions, environmental organizations and the fishing industry
work together to ensure that the industry remains stable, sustainable
and safe, said Egil Ove Sundheim, US Director of the Tromso-based
Norwegian Seafood Council.
"Due to the importance of food safety and quality, the Norwegian
Agency for Food Safety and the Norwegian National Institute for
Nutrition and Seafood Research have implemented extensive programs
to monitor safety and quality," Sundheim said. "There are very strict
regulations in place to protect food safety, which includes technologically advanced systems that relay information to the farmers and their
veterinarians."
And if a food safety-related incident does occur, the Norwegian
seafood industry has emergency plans in place to protect its fish, and
therefore consumers, Sundheim said.
"To ensure we are producing high quality and safe products, we regularly monitor to ensure we are both meeting and exceeding government and industry standards."

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Supermarket Perimeter - April 2020

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