The National Restaurant Association recently held a webinar on traceability and safe sourcing that focused on how seafood is fished or farmed, and whether employees are treated fairly.
To help our industry better understand transparency issues in the seafood supply chain, we recently held a webinar on traceability and safe sourcing.
“Don’t get hooked by illegal fishing practices,” focused on how seafood is fished, caught, farmed, and whether employees are treated fairly.
Around 90 percent of seafood consumed in the United States is imported, making it difficult to understand how it’s caught, farmed and processed. That lack of traceability often leaves restaurants uninformed about potential illegal labor practices.
Fishing for answers
Purchasing fish unknowingly harvested with forced labor can be a risk to restaurant brands. Our webinar shared how to purchase seafood without hurting reputations.
The Cheesecake Factory’s Megan Bloomer discussed her chain’s sustainable seafood sourcing policy; Liberty Asia founder Duncan Jepson addressed labor problems some suppliers are facing; and the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Shawn Cronin offered information on how restaurants can actively track products they purchase.
Here are some takeaways:
- Bloomer said Cheesecake created its sustainable sourcing policy in 2015. The reason: to guide how it purchases all goods that go in and out of its restaurants’ doors. It focuses on three areas: the social impact, environmental impact and animal welfare impact. “Our sustainable sourcing policy serves as a guidance system for us on how we buy everything,” she said.
- For a seafood product to make it onto Cheesecake’s menu, she said the chain “looks at labor conditions, like indentured servitude, child labor and gender equality.
- Jepson said his organization is committed to ensuring workers receive fair treatment and payment. “The work we do is not about naming and shaming. It’s about people trying to find jobs that are fair and reasonable. My advice to anyone with resources: take a much deeper dive to find out who you’re sourcing from.”
- Cronin said seafood traceability can be difficult to achieve, adding it’s essential to start digging into your supply chain if you’re concerned about social and environmental responsibility. “Look for key data elements. Work with your supplier to get critical pieces of information: what the species name is, whether or not it’s certified and where it was harvested, fished or farmed. It’s necessary in dealing with potential risks and if you want to tell the story of your product and best practices credibly.