UK importer Seafresh is set to supply retailer Marks and Spencer with farmed shrimp which, for the first time, claims to offer DNA-based assurance as to origin and quality.
Through enhanced transparency the TraceBack program will also help promote ethical labor practices, which have been highlighted in the global shrimp industry, the project said.
The technology offering – already available in animal meat – has been developed by DNA tracing company IdentiGEN, in partnership with Seafresh.
Seafresh’s Central American shrimp will be sold at M&S outlets in the UK, the first time such an offering has been brought to the consumer, said IdentiGEN in a press release.
IdentiGEN co-founder and director Ronan Loftus said the application of DNA TraceBack® to the industry brings a further degree of accountability to production and labor practices, which are increasingly being demanded by both retailers and the consumer.
“With its complex and global supply chain, the shrimp industry has been subject to high profile controversy in recent years for poor quality, excessive use of antibiotics and reports of human trafficking, slave and child labor,” he said.
“This program will give guaranteed transparency to both retailer and consumer that what they are buying is sourced from approved sources and meets highest standards in terms of production practices.”
Recent scientific advances in DNA technology has made traceability deliverable at a large scale, enabling its expansion into the seafood sector.
A sample taken from a female shrimp can apparently be used to trace all of its progeny (hundreds of thousands of shrimp) back to its farm of origin with unprecedented accuracy.
“This makes DNA sampling and TraceBack® of large numbers of shrimp from the fork back to their exact farm of production possible and cost efficient. The system can also be used to trace shrimp post-cooking, or further processing, where considerable co-mingling of production from different sources can occur.”