Editor’s picks: Seafood safety
Here’s a recap of this week’s must-read SeafoodSource news stories, commentaries and market reports:
• It’s been five months since China’s new food-safety law took effect. But just how serious is the country about improving its blemished food-safety record? Pretty serious, according to Eric Hargan, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery and former No. 2 at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Check out my Q&A with Hargan as well as my commentary, All eyes on China, addressing the monumental challenges China faces in overhauling its approach to food safety.
• Selling seafood’s health message to U.S. consumers has gotten unnecessarily complicated recently, said Seafood Business Associate Editor James Wright in his commentary, Raw truths. Wright pointed to two news stories this week that exemplified just how difficult it is: The FDA’s unnecessary proposal to require post-harvesting controls on raw, live oysters to prevent outbreaks of Vibrio vulnificus, and a survey indicating just how poorly educated consumers are about the health risks associated with mercury in fish.
• French smoked salmon suppliers are in a bit of a pickle. The market for smoked salmon is expanding, but raw material costs are rising. The widening gap between availability and demand is driving up prices of farmed salmon, and French suppliers fear increasing prices will scare away consumers and stunt the market’s growth.
• On the U.S. restaurant front, three seafood-related news stories made headlines this week. Landry’s Restaurants finally accepted Tilman Fertitta’s buyout offer, valued at about USD 1.2 billion. The Houston company’s chairman, president and CEO had been trying for about a year to acquire the company outright. McCormick & Schmick’s released its third-quarter results, including a 13.6 percent drop in revenues and an 18.8 percent slide in same-restaurant sales. However, the Portland, Ore., company is sticking with its plan to open a total of three restaurants next year. Meanwhile, Dunkin’ Donuts is adding a tuna-salad sandwich on a bagel to the menu at its New York-area restaurants. The coffee giant is trying to expand its lunch business. Will it work? Stay tuned.
• Tuna was in the limelight again this week, and the news was both good and bad. First, the good: Japan’s Tosakatsuo Suisan Group pole- and line-caught skipjack tuna fishery received Marine Stewardship Council sustainability certification, the world’s first skipjack fishery to earn the distinction. Now tuna from three fisheries are allowed to carry the MSC eco-label. Now, the bad: The 30 percent cut in Australia’s southern bluefin tuna quota will help protect the ailing resource, but the Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Association is angry because it said it was assured by the Australian government that quota reduction would not apply until December 2010.