Inaccurate weights may mean something fishy is going on

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With some seafood suppliers, the information on the label may not accurately reflect the true nature of the product inside. Even though the size and weight may seem entirely accurate when confirmed by weighing or measuring, the label can still be misleading due to a numberOct. Image 1 of deceptive practices.

Among the many forms of fraud tracked by the FDA, two practices appear to be more common and widespread than others. First is the inclusion of the protective ice glaze in the final product weight listed on the package. Spotting this technique can be as simple as comparing the deglazed (ice removed from the product) or thawed weight to the frozen weight listed on the package. If they don’t match closely enough, there may be a problem.

The other common method for boosting product weight, which is a lot more difficult to spot, is the use of approved chemicals to over-treat proteins. This loosens certain fibers within the protein itself, allowing the product to absorb and hold more water than normal. In this instance, the product weight may match the package exactly, but as the protein is cooked and the water is released, significant shrinkage will occur.

Although the FDA is doing its very best to combat fraudulent practices, it is an uphill battle. The sheer volume of domestic and imported products, combined with the fact that the FDA doesn’t have enough inspectors to cover every product, everywhere, means that not all fraudulent products are identified and will continue to enter distribution.

Unless, of course, you buy your seafood from Sysco.

Sysco Quality Assurance has implemented programs that exceed both the FDA’s regulations for quality control and the limited number of inspectors used for enforcement. Plus, if a Sysco supplier doesn’t live up to our expectations, we don’t levy fines like government agencies do—we suspend our relationship.

To become a Sysco supplier, companies must pass one of the strictest supplier approval processes in the industry. And it doesn’t stop there. Complete document reviews of quality and safety systems are conducted annually, along with regular and rigorous 3rd party audits to ensure that appropriate risk analysis has been completed for all food safety hazards, and that adequate preventative measures are in place to proactively manage all food safety risks and processing practices.

In addition, Sysco QA has implemented a Point Source Inspection Program (PSIP) to verify seafood quality and packaging accuracy through careful evaluation right at the source, no matter where in the world that source is located. Loads are selected by Sysco QA representatives who conduct sampling and thorough physical inspections against tight specifications, along with chemical and microbial analysis.

With these systems in place, Sysco is able to verify labeling information and product quality before products ever enter the distribution chain. The end result is that Sysco customers get what they pay for—the right product, the right size, the right weight and a safe, consistent, high-quality seafood product—every time.