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CSI seafood: Thai Union tapping DNA forensics for fish traceability and authentication

Seafood is one of basically the most internationally traded meals commodities, and tends to achieve customers simplest after having passed by convoluted and non-transparent provide chains – basically based entirely on Thai Union, this exposes seafood to extra than one meals safety complications, in particular surrounding meals fraud.

“Seafood has traditionally had to grapple with complicated and opaque provide chains, which possibility exposing it to complications with meals fraud. This can prefer many kinds—from dilution, substitution, and concealment, to unapproved enhancement, fraudulent, forgery and mislabelling,”​ Thai Union Neighborhood Innovation Director Dr Tunyawat Kasemsuwan told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

[In addition to] ripping off customers, and having a negative affect on marine life, seafood fraud shall be harmful to properly being—in particular when substitution and unapproved enhancement prefer plan.”

With this in thoughts, Thai Union has put in plan a sequence of systems to fight meals fraud within its group, one of which is the expend of the principles of forensic science, most recurrently known to be used in crime-solving and investigations.

“By the lab at our Global Innovation Heart, we enjoy been in a predicament to implement sophisticated systems of DNA barcoding and Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP) evaluation (basically based entirely on gene sequence variations between particular individual organisms) to take a look at the species of the fish and where they enjoy been caught,”​ Dr Kasemsuwan outlined.

On this process, when attempting to name a explicit form of fish equivalent to tuna, whether or no longer canned or frozen, to envision its origins and species, the tuna pattern is disbursed to the lab where its DNA is extracted, put by Polymerase Chain Response (PCR), sequencing evaluation to match it to samples from a database, then analysed for explicit patterns identifying its geographical and species ID.

“This affords a further level of assurance to our customers and is an dwelling where we are continuously innovating,”​ he added.

“As properly as, we enjoy been also the first firm globally to introduce a can tracker on canned tuna merchandise, allowing customers to designate their product aid to species, vessel, ocean and fishing time out.”

Thai Union has also utilized what it calls the Combating Meals Fraud and Meals Defense Strategy ​organisation-vast, hoping to present clearer guidance to employees on combating meals fraud and adulteration within the enterprise.

The technique defines measure and controls which would be required to handle and administration any risks identified by the firm e.g. around the areas of raw materials, substances, packaging and meals.

“The Combating Meals Fraud and Meals Defense Strategy adds extra layers of safety [against food fraud],”​ acknowledged Dr Kasemsuwan.

“[In this strategy], within the initiating we undertake vulnerability assessments to name doable sources of meals fraud within our provide chain. We then assemble and implement administration measures that decrease the odds of receiving unsuitable foodstuffs and handle the doable vulnerabilities in our enterprise objects, companies and products or processes.

“[That said], in the case of meals fraud, traceability is the first and handiest line of defense. Beneath our SeaChange sustainability technique, we enjoy constructed up the flexibility to designate our seafood aid to the vessel or aquaculture farm.

“Additional layers of transparency and verification are also being put in plan by the growth of blockchain know-how and our partnership with The Nature Conservancy to cease 100% ‘on-the-water’ monitoring by 2025.”

User considerations

Dr Kasemsuwan has also noticed a greater level of meals safety consciousness amongst customers after COVID-19 hit the predicament.

“Whereas meals safety has continuously been a topic for customers within the APAC predicament, this has simplest intensified following the outbreak of COVID-19. Folks are indubitably hyper-responsive to their properly being and must know that the meals they’re eating is stable and of a excessive-quality,” he acknowledged.

“Equally, we are seeing a steep alternate in ardour from customers about the hump meals takes to receive to their tables. At some level of the COVID-19 outbreak, customers enjoy tended to drag faraway from raw meals to meals that is both processed or ready-to-eat that shall be reheated, providing extra peace of thoughts that the meals they’re eating is stable.”

He added that some of the major challenges to overcoming seafood fraud within the APAC predicament will lie in reaching traceability but there are many obstacles within the technique of this.

“[Solving] this can even require a extra sophisticated machine for monitoring vessels and verifying traceability files between diversified parts of the provision chain. It also requires world consensus on acceptable requirements for seafood traceability,”​ Dr Kasemsuwan acknowledged.

“That’s why we enjoy worked with the Global Dialogue for Seafood Traceability (GDST), supporting trials [and] checking out requirements of interoperability. We’ve [also] made 100% traceability a key pillar of our dedication.”

Expertise unruffled key

No matter the many challenges, meals safety in APAC has near a protracted technique at some level of the last decade in the case of legislations, requirements and administration programs – and Dr Kasemsuwan believes that as technologies on this dwelling continue to toughen, so will the general safety atmosphere.

“A sequence of interior most requirements on meals safety, traceability and meals defense are being utilized by the alternate. There are [also] an rising sequence of sophisticated technologies which would be being introduced to market [to] boost meals safety and develop clear authenticity,”​ he acknowledged.

“Your next step is to handle refining these technologies whereas making them extra scalable and more cost effective for frequent expend by companies huge and limited across the predicament.”

He over and over is believed as for meals safety regulators to handle up with such know-how, so to no longer hinder meals safety growth within the predicament.

“For Thai Union, meals innovation is aimed no longer simplest at new merchandise but also stable meals globally – Rising and fresh know-how including AI are being utilized to maximise resource utilisation [and] handle up with rising hazards, illnesses and contaminants.

“It’s far a necessity that regulatory innovation be developed to handle up with fresh know-how and merchandise to handle meals safety and the meals alternate.”

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