Food Safety and Traceability

Clearwater is recognized globally for its superior quality, traceability, and food safety of wild-caught, sustainably sourced seafood. As a vertically integrated company, Clearwater’s high food safety standards are applied to every level of our supply chain, from our vessels to our processing plants and through to our customers. Everyone at Clearwater understands that the seafood we handle will become the centerpiece of our customers’ next meal.

Above all else, our proactive approach and commitment to the best food safety practices and our passion for continuous improvement help ensure our seafood is always a safe and healthy choice.

Vertical integration greatly facilitates Clearwater’s traceability standards, allowing us to confidently track our products from the ocean to our distribution centers. Integrated monitoring systems track each unit of production from a specific day and area of fishing activity, to a processing plant and day of production and onward through shipping routes around the world. Click here to find out more about Clearwater’s Commitment to Food Safety and Traceability.

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)

Stringent quality control practices are mandatory in our processing plants and vessels. We’ve implemented standards above the regulatory requirements as demonstrated by our Internal Quality Management Audit Programs which also work to incorporate the globally recognized HACCP principles.

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) is an approach to food safety that is systematic and preventive. It is recommended by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the United Nations international standards organization for food safety. HACCP goes beyond inspecting finished food products. It helps to find, correct, and prevent hazards throughout the production process. These include but are not limited to physical, chemical, and biological hazards.

Brand Reputation through Compliance Global Standards (BRCGS)

Pierce Fisheries, specializing in processed lobster and sea scallops and Grand Bank, specializing in clams, are certified by the BRCGS, the global leader in food safety standards.

BRCGS is a leading brand and consumer protection organization. With more than 22,000 site certificates issued across 130+ countries, and with certification issued through a global network of accredited certification bodies. BRCGS’ Standards guarantee the standardization of quality, safety and operational criteria and ensure that manufacturers fulfil their legal obligations and provide protection for the end consumer. Certification to BRCGS is now often a fundamental requirement of leading retailers, manufacturers and food service organizations.

Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT)

Clearwater is a certified partner of the C-TPAT program.

C‐TPAT seeks to safeguard the world’s vibrant trade industry from terrorists, maintaining the economic health of the U.S. and its neighbors. By extending the United States’ zone of security to the point of origin, the customs‐trade partnership allows for better risk assessment and targeting, freeing CBP to allocate inspectional resources to more questionable shipments. The partnership establishes clear supply chain security criteria for members to meet and in return provides incentives and benefits like expedited processing.

Clearwater’s commitment to food safety is embedded in all aspects of our products from ocean-to-plate. Below, we’ve developed a series of frequently asked questions to keep our customers informed about food safety as it relates to our products.

How do I choose the freshest live or raw seafood?
When it comes to choosing fresh live or raw seafood, you should only purchase products from a reputable seafood market or grocery store. When selecting shrimp, flesh should be translucent and shiny, with little to no odour. Clams, oysters and mussels should have tightly closed shells and be free of cracks. Live crab and lobster should show some leg movement, especially when handled. Above all else, seafood should smell like the sea – not fishy!

How do I choose the freshest frozen seafood?
When purchasing frozen seafood, ensure packaging is not torn or open, and inspect to make sure it is generally free from any frost or ice crystallization. Frozen seafood can actually be of higher quality when it is frozen-at-sea, meaning the product is frozen onboard a vessel within minutes of catch. This process locks in flavour, freshness and preserves the texture.

How do I store shellfish?
Shellfish should be refrigerated or frozen immediately after purchasing (below 40°F/4°C). Live shellfish should be stored in a large, open container in the back of the refrigerator. Once in the container, the shells should be covered with a damp cloth or paper towel. Shellfish that has been previously shucked (opened) should be stored in a closed container.

How do I store frozen shellfish?
Frozen shellfish should be placed in the freezer immediately after purchasing.

How many days can I keep shellfish?
Raw or live shellfish can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two days and stored in the freezer for 2-4 months.

How long can I keep packaged frozen seafood?
Packaged frozen seafood should be used before the expiration date.

How do I defrost frozen seafood?
Frozen seafood should never be defrosted at room temperature. It can be easily thawed in a container on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator, away from other foods to prevent cross-contamination. Frozen seafood can also be thawed in a leak-proof plastic bag, under cold running water or immersed in a container of cold water that is changed every 30 minutes.

How do I avoid cross-contamination?
Fish and shellfish should be kept separate from other foods in the refrigerator, preferably on the bottom shelf to avoid raw juice dripping onto other items. Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after handling raw seafood. All kitchen surfaces and utensils that come into contact with any seafood or juices should also be cleaned and sanitized.

What is methyl mercury contamination?
Methyl mercury is an environmental contaminant that can occur in seafood. Mercury is a mineral that naturally exists in the environment, but can also be added to the environment through pollution. Once in the environment, mercury can be transformed by natural processes into methyl mercury (MeHg) and can accumulate in marine and freshwater ecosystems, potentially contaminating fish and shellfish that live in these ecosystems. Concentrations of methyl mercury are not related to the manner in which food is handled or prepared, but are related to the environment an animal lives in or its position in the food chain.

Is methyl mercury present in Clearwater products?
Clearwater’s products do not pose a risk with respect to methyl mercury or other environmental contaminants. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) performs regular testing on commercial fish and shellfish in Canada to verify that the level of methyl mercury is within Health Canada’s mercury guideline of .5 parts per million (PPM). Our products are among a variety of types of seafood that account for having the lowest traces of methyl mercury, compared to all seafood:

Why are Clearwater products a safe choice?
Clearwater is committed to offering the highest quality seafood and continues to actively engage with Health Canada and the CFIA to understand and accurately communicate the benefits and risk of seafood consumption for the health of our customers. Clearwater’s high food safety standards are applied to every level of the supply chain, from the vessel, to the processing plant and through to customer delivery. Integrated monitoring systems track each unit of production from a specific day and area of fishing activity, to a processing plant and day of production and onward through shipping routes around the world. Tamper-evident packaging and shipping containers ensure product integrity and full traceability of our products.

Does Clearwater follow a food safety program?
All Clearwater food processing plants, including our factory vessels, operate under government approved and audited Quality Management Programs. Clearwater’s Quality Management Programs are based on the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) model, an internationally recognized and recommended process control system that identifies where hazards might occur in the food production process and puts in place stringent actions designed to prevent those hazards from occurring. Vertical integration greatly facilitates traceability, allowing us to confidently track our products from the ocean to our distribution centres. We have a vigilant reporting and monitoring program to ensure constant information exchange.

How are Clearwater staff trained in food safety?
With increasingly complex global food safety standards, we believe investing in people is essential to thoroughly and efficiently address food safety. All Clearwater production personnel are responsible for maintaining food safety, however, each processing plant and our fleet department also employ specially-trained food safety experts to oversee our Quality Management Programs on land and at sea. Staff members take part in regular training and keep abreast of current and emerging issues, ensuring compliance to food safety standards across all of our markets. Standard compliance is only the starting point of our food safety regime, and constant education and training allows us to exceed regulatory requirements.

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