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According to FAO, aquaculture — the farming of fish, shellfish and other aquatic species — is the fastest-growing food production sector in the world. As new aquaculture facilities open every year, specialised CPOs like Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) are stepping in to champion those that use safe and sustainable production methods. GFSI is evolving in step; the scope of the Benchmarking Requirements now extends to farmed and wild seafood.

Today on the GFSI Experts Series, we speak to Daniel Lee, Standards Coordinator for GAA. GAA’s seafood processing plant standards first achieved GFSI recognition in 2010 and have been successfully benchmarked against subsequent editions of the Benchmarking Requirements, most recently against Version 7.1 in November. Daniel is a strong advocate of GFSI recognition and its potential to help producers and CPOs reach global significance. Watch his interview on GFSI Youtube, or read the transcript below.

Could you please introduce yourself?

With pleasure. I’m Daniel Lee, and I work for Global Aquaculture Alliance. I’m the Standards Coordinator, so I do work with programme integrity and standards coordination.

Can you tell us more about Global Aquaculture Alliance?

We are an industry association and an NGO at the same time. We are very much focused on seafood, and in particular farmed seafood. We have a lot of farms that apply and meet our standards, and they’re scattered through Asia, Latin America and North America, globally. So we have quite a strong footprint, but in a clear niche, which is seafood.

Why did you decide to be GFSI-recognised?

We cover many angles of assurance for food safety. With seafood, we’re covering the environmental angle, the social angle, traceability and food safety. If you are trying to offer assurance in the food safety realm, there’s no alternative other than to seek out recognition through GFSI benchmarking. GFSI is the consensus around what it takes to run a responsible and well-constituted programme that includes food safety.

When we were looking to spread our message about sustainable, safe, healthy seafood, we needed a partner like GFSI and to get their benchmark. Their motto being “certified once, accepted everywhere” is very appealing to us and our supporters, our endorsers. They’re looking for straightforward solutions, comprehensive solutions, globally accepted solutions, and solutions that are industry-leading. GFSI, by being very good at bringing the different stakeholders together, is essential, and plays a key role in that area. So we’re very pleased to be part of the GFSI family and to have the GAA and its seafood processing [plant standards] recognised within GFSI.

What are the benefits of GFSI recognition?

It is a recognition that passes on to all our endorsers. For example, big players, big retailers, are looking to have a standardised approach to food safety across many categories. So they will then specify that they will accept any programme that is GFSI-benchmarked. That way, our programme, by allying with GFSI and by getting GFSI-benchmarked, we automatically get that recognition across a whole suite of GFSI members: GFSI endorsers, retailers, the food service sector, the manufacturers, all those different stakeholders. So that’s very much our thinking, and very much the approach of GFSI, which fits our approach as well. We want to be global, we want to be globally recognised, and we want to meet the high standards.

To learn more about CPOs, their shared issues and their joint efforts to provide safe food for consumers everywhere, watch our previous interviews with representatives from CanadaGAP, FSSC 22000, IFS and GlobalG.A.P. Follow #GFSIexperts on TwitterFacebook or LinkedIn and subscribe to GFSI News to make sure you do not miss an episode!

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