“Cod and chips please. No, I said COD”! Buying fish – do you know what you’re getting?

Whatever next.

An analysis of fish samples in US outlets showed that a third weren’t actually the fish they claimed to be.  Here’s the SFGate website (from San Franciso)

Genetic testing of 1,215 fish taken from 674 retail outlets, grocery stores and sushi bars throughout the United States between 2010 and 2012 found that 33 percent of the samples had been mislabeled, according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines.

Fish labeled as Snapper turned out to be rockfish, and white tuna was actually escolar, which has a well known laxative effect. Pennsylvania was the worst State with 56 percent of the tested fish turning out to be something other than what was described on the label or menu.

The worry really is that once you lose trust in your suppliers and supply chains, it calls all sorts of things into question.  We might laugh at the laxative example given in the fish story but not at this:

Serious illnesses have occurred in the past, most notably in 2007 when toxic puffer fish were mislabeled as monkfish in an attempt to circumvent U.S. import restrictions, according to the FDA.

Or when adulterated milk powder cost childrens’ lives in China, or (just as a theoretical example) if counterfeit components caused disaster when used in a plane, train or bus.

So, is this current scandal going to blow over and be forgotten– or is it going to lead to some fundamental changes in the way supply chains work, I wonder? But in any case it highlights again a whole range of questions for procurement people and indeed everyone.

  • How do we know what we’re really eating in restaurants?
  • How do we know what is going into the food we buy in shops?
  • How do we know that our suppliers are providing exactly what they say they are?
  • How do we know that their suppliers are providing them with what they say they are?
  • How do we check and verify what we’re being told we’re getting by our suppliers?
  • How often is it really feasible to do that sort of checking give cost and resource issues?
  • What actions do we take if we find out we didn’t get what we specific / ordered / bought?

And most importantly – when I order Cod and Chips, how do I know it’s REALLY Cod?!

Voices (2)

  1. Andrew:

    I think that the current focus on the supply chain can act as a useful reminder to procurement professionals to focus on the contracts. Too many of us (myself included) have an 80:20 type rule where we focus the majority of our time on the next big thing (usually tenders/outsourcing/major projects/ savings initiatives etc) whilst assuming that existing contracts are working fine. Then something like this happens which shows that some contracts are not operating as well as is assumed. In my view effective Contract Perfomance Management is under-used in many organisations and represents an opportunity to raise standards and safeguard quality – helping prevent these types of issues.

  2. Final Furlong:

    Did they find any seahorse in their samples?

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