Food Tracing Gets Down to Details

Food Tracing Gets Down to Details

Food & Drink

Food Tracing Gets Down to Details


How much do you really want to know about the fish you’re thinking of buying at the supermarket?

As much as possible, you say? Do you want to know the type of equipment used for the catch, and where and when it was caught? Would it matter to you to know the names of the fisherman and his boat?

As reported by The Globe and Mail, those kinds of details are now available to customers of Canadian retailer Sobeys, which launched its trailblazing seafood tracing system last month.

With consumers demanding more transparency in the food system today, grocery retailers and food suppliers have stepped up efforts in the area of food traceability, a phrase that’s become a hot industry buzzword.

Sobeys’ new seafood tracing system, introduced in partnership with Vancouver-based conservation organization EcoTrust Canada, is an effort to assure shoppers that their fish is sustainably caught. Via a website or by using their smart phones, customers can view photos of the boat and crew that snagged the fish, see a map where it was caught and landed, and learn details about the fishing method used and info about the seafood processor.

The program is limited in scope initially, available for only a few fresh fish and premium frozen seafood products. But if consumers find it appealing, it will no doubt be expanded.

Here in the U.S., shoppers at California-based HarvestMark can look up information on a variety of coded grocery items. A German meat co-operative goes further, reportedly offering a “Trace ’n’ Face” system that lets customers see a photo of the pork producer by scanning the label with their cell phones.

Is all this a case of TMI (too much information)? Or is it a case of the devil’s in the details? Will busy shoppers really take the time to access all this data?

Time will tell, I guess. But better to have too much info than not enough, right? What do you think?

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