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No Need for Pangasius Quality Concerns, Says Importer

by 5m Editor
30 October 2009, at 12:00am

UK - Cumbrian Seafood has responded to recent criticism in the media regarding the quality of pangasius it imports from Viet Nam. The company confirms its products are sourced from farms audited for process control, traceability and fish welfare.

The UK's leading independent seafood supplier to the retail trade has disputed some of the recent concerns that have been raised about Vietnamese river cobbler (pangasius) in some of the Scottish press over the last few days.

Cumbrian Seafoods, which supplies over half of the Vietnamese river cobbler to UK supermarkets, has seen sales rise by over 150 per cent over the last year.

"In the current economic climate, there was the distinct possibility that some consumers would drop seafood from their shopping baskets, opting for cheaper proteins," said Iain Lowrie, Cumbrian Seafood's Category Development Controller.

"However, River Cobbler, along with products such as kippers, mussels and cold water prawns have provided UK consumers with more affordable seafood which has ensured that they have remained within the this category, and not switched their spend into other areas."

The main concern raised was about the purity of the water and the way in which some producers in Vietnam are rearing pangasius.

Huw Thomas, Head of Ethical & Sustainable Sourcing at Cumbrian Seafoods said: "All of the pangasius that we import is only bought from audited farms where the factories and feed mills have achieved the highest standards in process control, traceability and fish welfare.

"Pangasius fillets are checked for contaminants during farming, upon receipt at the EU approved fish filleting factories, before shipment to the EU by the EU appointed competent authority and again upon arrival into the UK. Copies of these test certificates are routinely audited and show no issues for either antibiotic, pesticide or heavy metal residues, despite the claims that the Mekong water is highly polluted."

The information available to most researchers of pangasius who have not visited Vietnam is from a 2006 French article to be found on the internet, which is based on flawed scientific data, when the majority of fish were grown in cages within the river itself and worse still, shows a photograph of a fish that is not pangasius.

During 2009, Cumbrian Seafoods have worked closely with both GlobalGAP and the Global Aquaculture Alliance who have issued Pangasius farming standards against which all of our suppliers have committed to achieve certification during the first half of 2010.

Finally, Mr Thomas added: "Our commitment to food safety and product quality is paramount and significant investment working with our farms, feed mills and processing plants has been made to ensure that product quality meets or exceeds that of EU processed products."

5m Editor