Greenpeace recently released its 2013 Carting Away the Oceans (CATO) report, ranking American supermarkets on sustainable seafood policies. Before this year, only Whole Foods and Safeway earned the group’s “green rating.” Greenpeace this year added Trader Joe’s to the list and acknowledged Walmart for introducing pole-and-line caught albacore in more than 3,000 stores across the country. The report scores supermarkets a rating of between zero and 10 on factors including sales of “red list: seafood, engagement with conservation initiatives, and transparency of supply. Whole Foods is rated at the top with a score of 7.3, followed by Safeway (7.1), Trader Joe’s (7.0), and Wegman’s (6.9). The complete list is posted [HERE].
JUNE 14 – Oregon Seafoods, a small company specializing in fish processing and packaging, recently was recognized by the Specialty Food Association for its packaged seafood bisque. The company beat out 250 other new products and was named one of eleven finalists for the Association’s Sofi Award for outstanding new product of the year. The winner will be chosen in July at the Fancy Food Show, North America’s largest specialty food and beverage event in New York City.
According to The World in Coos Bay, Oregon, company owner Mike Babcock launched Oregon Seafoods in 2011, packaging local albacore in a plastic pouch. The product is popular at natural food stores and is favored by restaurant chefs. But Babcock has struggled to get his product stocked in supermarkets, where Chicken of the Sea, Bumble Bee, and Star-Kist canned and packaged tuna is featured as the cheaper product.
Babcock worked with Mark Whitham, a food scientist with Oregon State University’s Sea Grant program. Whitham developed recipes for albacore curry, cioppino, salmon chowder, and seafood bisque. He and Babcock collaborated on packaging the products in retort pouches, a plastic and metal foil laminate pouch used as an alternative to traditional canning methods. Oregon Seafoods also produces soups and sauces made with local clams, shrimp and salmon, local vegetables and milk, and quick-frozen herbs. The company also sells vacuum-packed fresh or frozen albacore loins.
June 11 – Massachusetts consumers may soon get reassurance that fish they order in restaurants is really what it says on the menu.
A Massachusetts House hearing on food safety today included discussion on fining supermarkets and restaurants if they mislabel seafood, and would ban the sale of escolar, an oily species of fish often sold as albacore in some East Coast sushi restaurants.
Two years of reporting by the Boston Globe revealed widespread mislabeling of fish in area restaurants; they substitued less expensive fish for the “albacore” and other more expensive fish on their menus.
Under the proposed legislation, Massachusetts businesses caught misrepresenting fish could face fines of up to $800 and have their operating license suspended or revoked. Restaurants caught serving escolar, often mislabeled as albacore at sushi restaurants, could be fined. [READ MORE HERE]
JUNE 13 – The Vancouver Aquarium in Canada has created a program to educate consumers and help restaurants choose sustainable responsibly harvested fish and seafood. The Ocean Wise program lists wild Pacific albacore as a recommended choice.
“We have already depleted over 90 percent of large, predatory fish,” said Ocean Wise coordinator Theodora Geach. “We must take immediate action to change our behaviors to ensure that fish stocks are available now, and for generations to come.”
According to Fast Forward Weekly, the Ocean Wise program is supported by more than 110 restaurants, markets, and food service outlets in the province of Alberta — even though it’s a landlocked Canadian province. Nationwide, Canada has 480 Ocean Wise members and 3,100 restaurants signed up.
Ocean Wise choices include halibut, sablefish, and albacore tuna — along with scallops, oysters, and spot prawns. The criteria for Ocean Wise designation include species that are:
1. Abundant and resilient to fishing pressures
2. Well managed with a comprehensive management plan based on current research
3. Harvested in a method that ensures limited bycatch on non-target and endangered species
4. Harvested in ways that limit damage to marine or aquatic habitats and negative interactions with other species
More information on the program is available at oceanwise.ca