New technology aids policing of BAP logo
The Global Aquaculture Alliance’s Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) third-party certification is able to better police the legitimate use of its logo with the help of new technology.
Using Field Agent, a data-collection application inspired by The Fishin Co., BAP is now able to verify that the proper information is on its logos and they are being used correctly. The technology utilizes 700,000 “agents” globally to gather data.
In addition, 50 field agents recently recorded the BAP certification number and BAP star status from 96 packaged seafood products from 50 United States supermarkets. They also checked brand, species, country of origin and lot/serial number on each package label.
“The agents were asked to take photos of the packaging, and a lot of the report’s findings were drawn from those photos. We checked to ensure that the BAP logo was being used properly — proper placement, proper sizing, proper color, etc. More importantly, we checked to ensure that the BAP certification number and star status were accurately represented,” Steven Hedlund, communications manager for GAA, told SeafoodSource.
If a product was labeled as “four star,” for example, agents traced back the product using its lot/serial number to ensure that it originated from a BAP-certified processing plant, farm, hatchery and feed mill, according to BAP’s four-star requirements.
Of all the products tested – including shrimp, mussels, salmon, tilapia and pangasius – no label violations were found. The BAP program has grown quickly, with more than 1,500 facilities now BAP-certified globally.
Although GAA executives were encouraged by the results of the first report, Hedlund said, “We realize we need to continue to ramp up our logo-policing program by running reports regularly.”
“Field Agent is an ideal solution, because it allows us to gather and analyze results in a quick and efficient manner,” he said. “We’ve had a logo policing program for years, managed manually by Bill and Betty More. Now we have the capacity to gather more samples from more retail outlets in the U.S. and beyond.”
While the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) does not have the same technology in place for policing its logos, it has other methods of ensuring its standards are followed, the nonprofit said.
For example, with its MSC Chain of Custody Certification, the certifier “regularly monitors the supply chain and auditor application of the MSC CoC Standard in order to ensure that the requirements are being followed correctly,” MSC Head of Media Jo Miller told SeafoodSource.
There are more than 3,500 organizations with MSC Chain of Custody certificates and more than 1,600 companies using the MSC ecolabel globally. To protect the reputation of the MSC and the investment of partners using the MSC ecolabel legitimately, the organization “actively monitors ecolabel use and investigates all suspected cases of misuse,” Miller said.
“Most incidents can be resolved simply and quickly; but, if necessary, we reserve the right to withdraw licenses where these apply and initiate legal action,” she said. “We take misuse of our ecolabel extremely seriously and investigate any evidence that they may be happening. If our investigations confirm misuse, the company concerned is given the opportunity to correct the misuse by, for example, removing products from the market place, signing an ecolabel license agreement, obtaining Chain of Custody certification or changing suppliers.”