Shrimp Eco-Labels: What do they Mean?
The ever-expanding shrimp industry has been devastating to the environment and coastal communities throughout many parts of the world. Recognizing this, increasingly conscious consumers are now demanding more sustainably produced shrimp. Unfortunately, the multitude and variety of labels can be confusing, leaving consumers to wonder about each label‚ meaning and credibility.
Although only a few labeled shrimp products can be found on grocery store shelves in the U.S., there are several labeling schemes around the globe providing certification of shrimp. Unfortunately, the current industrial shrimp production model is the antithesis of sustainable production.
The labels arise from various certification schemes, all of which differ. Some are far more detailed than others. Some provide only immeasurable “principles” or guidelines, and some don’t refer to sustainability at all (such as Wild American Shrimp, which simply indicates that the product was harvested in its natural habitat in U.S. waters.) Other systems intend to ensure the credibility of labels, such as IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) accrediting Naturland‚ label.
An ideal accredited label would be public, not run by private industry, and have clear objectives with measurable standards. It is also essential that the certifier be an independent body separate from the standard-setting body to avoid conflict of interest.
The United States Department of Agriculture is set to develop standards for organic farm raised seafood in the near future.
Until then, take a closer look at what is out there.