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Tesco unveils something fishy

17 September 2010

A supermarket chain has unveiled an initiative to ensure a Vietnamese fish which is growing in popularity across the UK reaches the shelves in the most humane way possible

Tesco has joined forces with Cumbrian Seafoods, the country’s leading independent seafood supplier, who has spent two years developing a new process to ensure that the freshwater fish Pangasius, which is also known as Vietnamese River Cobbler or Basa, is humanely stunned before processing.

The joint initiative – believed to be the first of its kind - is part of both companies’ on-going commitment to ensure the welfare of the fish they supply.

“We started the process of finding a way for the Pangasius to be humanely stunned back in 2007,” said Huw Thomas, Technical Director at Cumbrian Seafoods. “We used the experience of the salmon market, where similar guidelines were introduced some years ago.

“As a company we recognised that you can stand on the sidelines or you can make a real effort to ensure that the fish you offer has been treated humanely and that is what we have achieved.”

The market for Pangasius has soared in recent years to a 1.5 m tonne industry, mainly because it provides an affordable alternative to some of the more traditional offerings and is responsibly sourced.

Cumbrian Seafoods has worked closely with fish farms and factories in Vietnam as well as collaborating with GlobalGAP and the Global Aquaculture Alliance to ensure that their farming standards are adhered to by the suppliers.
“As a company we have spent a great deal of time in Vietnam over the past two years to ensure every aspect of this process is right, including training the farmers and modifying the equipment,” said Thomas. “Tesco’s commitment to fish welfare is in line with our own and we are delighted to have had such a positive outcome to this initiative.”

Jodie Johnston, Tesco’s Aquaculture Technical Manager, echoed Thomas’ words. “The project is now complete after two years of work in Vietnam,” she said.

“It is important to our customers Tesco continues to raise standards when it comes to fish welfare.”

The fish produced from the new processes will be available at Tesco stores from October 2010.

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