Whole Foods Market has announced a new sourcing policy for sustainable, traceable canned tuna, becoming the first national retailer to create such stringent standards for the category.
The new standards, which go into effect in January of next year, are intended to reduce overfishing and bycatch, as well as to support sustainable fishing communities.
“We created this new policy for canned tuna because we want to lead by example in sourcing only the highest quality, sustainably caught tuna,” Carrie Brownstein, global seafood quality standards coordinator for Whole Foods Market, said in a press release.
Under the new policy, all canned tuna sold at Whole Foods must come from fisheries using only pole-and-line, troll, or hand-line catch methods. The policy is in line with an already existing Whole Foods requirement that all fisheries must either be certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council or rated green or yellow by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Safina Center.
Suppliers will also be required to use Trace Register, traceability software that tracks each lot of tuna all along the production line, to further prevent any illegally or unsustainably caught tuna from ending up in one of Whole Foods’ cans.
The new policy includes canned tuna items sold both in the grocery aisles and in the prepared foods department of Whole Foods stores. Leading brands like 365 Everyday Value, American Tuna, Pole and Line, Henry and Lisa’s, and Wild Planet are already updating their operations to meet these new traceability requirements.
“Since America is the largest canned tuna market in the world, shifts toward greater sustainability in this category can create a meaningful, positive impact on our oceans and our global fishing communities,” said Adam Baske, director of policy and outreach for International Pole and Line Foundation.
The announcement of the new policy comes just over a week after Undercurrent revealed that David Pilat, the former global seafood director for Whole Foods, would be leaving the company. Pilat, who had been with the company for ten years, was instrumental in Whole Foods' high ratings with Greenpeace, which named the chain top retailer for seafood sustainability for multiple years.
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