lines at the Tacoma plant, fillets and whole fish
are treated with ozone at least three times as
they make their way through the building.
The Quality Assurance department performs
swab tests on both product and contact surfaces multiple times per week as an added
precaution to ensure no contamination is
occurring. Swanes says these measures help
keep Northern Fish well ahead of regulatory
food safety requirements.
“There are very few regulations that have
come into place that have surprised us
because a lot of our customers demand even
more robust audits, ” he says.
TELLING THE STORY OF
Sustainable seafood is becoming increasingly popular with consumers. But the meaning of
“sustainable” can vary from person to person,
creating a challenge for seafood producers like
“For some people, sustainable means local.
For some people, sustainable means only
wild-caught,” Swanes explains. “It’s fun to sell
fish because it always creates conversations.
Where did my fish come from? Who caught it?
Swanes says he often recommends that
customers who are new to seafood consult
programs like the Monterey Bay Aquarium
Seafood Watch, which identifies which seafood
items are “Best Choices, “Good Alternatives”
and ones shoppers should “Avoid,” based on
scientific information and ecosystem-based
data. Swanes says lists like this are a good
starting point for further discussion.
Food fraud also is an area of concern at
both the restaurant and retail level. Northern
Fish has traceability systems in place that
allow the company to trace its product down to
the case. To further ensure the authenticity of
its products, Northern Fish systematically utilizes third party testing, including regular testing
of imported product.
Other challenges faced by seafood processors like Northern Fish include scarcity of
supply and rising prices, as well as consumer
fears of cooking with seafood.
“People don’t have a lot of money to spend
on fish, and people are a bit mystified on how
to cook it,” Swanes says. “[Northern Fish] promotes fish that people have never thought to
cook. It’s constant education.”
Swanes says he enjoys being able to tell
customers the story of their seafood from catch
“Every day when I make my phone calls and
ask what was caught today, every day is an
opportunity to tell a new story. It’s fun.” ◆