BlueNalu commits to global food safety and quality standards for cell-cultured seafood
The company CEO hopes this commitment will establish a globally recognized standard, and a model of best practices, for the entire cell-cultured foods industry
01 Jul 2021 --- BlueNalu reveals its latest framework designed to achieve a premier standard of food safety, quality and traceability for its cell-cultured seafood production.
The company is committed to pursuing third-party certification recognized by the international Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), such as the Safe Quality Food (SQF).
“When developing the business strategy for BlueNalu, my objective was to create a global company and a supply chain solution of delicious cell-cultured seafood that would be rapidly, and ideally eagerly accepted and adopted by consumers around the world,” Lou Cooperhouse, president and CEO of BlueNalu, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
However, when the company began, no regulatory agency worldwide had thoroughly reviewed the technology for the cell-cultured protein category, and consumers had minimal familiarity with this process, he notes.
“Given all of these challenges, it was imperative that food safety and quality be a core value of the company and that we adopt globally recognized practices for food safety and quality.”
Developing quality systems
The planning for this certification has already begun at BlueNalu, and Cooperhouse says the company has been developing these quality systems over the past year while also developing the regulatory requirements needed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
According to Cooperhouse, the news is intended to showcase BlueNalu’s commitment to quality and safety as much as it is a call-to-action to colleagues in the cell-cultured foods industry.
“We hope that others in the industry can learn from our framework and adopt a similar and comprehensive approach to food safety to establish consumer trust and product excellence, industry-wide and across the globe,” he continues.
“By committing to the highest standards of food safety, we hope that the cell-cultured foods space can emerge as one that is consistently certified and verified by internationally recognized food safety standards. Hopefully, our early commitment will set the standard for the entire cell-cultured foods industry to follow.”
The “gold standard” in safety
GFSI certification programs are voluntary and recognized internationally by leading retailers and foodservice operators to set standards beyond domestic government regulations.
The programs follow a globally consistent standard for demonstrating safety and quality and are validated by independent third-party audits.
“Food quality and safety are core values at BlueNalu and it is essential that we not only meet regulatory requirements but also establish the highest standards to achieve trusted third-party certification. We are pleased to announce BlueNalu’s commitment to GFSI certification standards for our cell-cultured seafood,” says Cooperhouse.
Enabling traceable supply chains
Leading these initiatives at BlueNalu is Noreen Hobayan, MSc, PCQI, its director of quality assurance and regulatory affairs.
Hobayan has established a quality systems framework for BlueNalu and over 100 procedures and policies designed to ensure product safety and supply chain transparency to prepare the company for both FDA regulatory inspection and third-party certification.
“It’s imperative that we create a culture of food safety and put comprehensive systems in place to enable traceability of our supply chain. We’re committed to laying the groundwork early for a scalable, top-tier food safety and quality management system that we intend to replicate globally in markets that we enter,” says Hobayan.
With any food product, safety, quality and traceability should be monitored and controlled at every stage, from sourcing to testing to production, to ensure the safest possible product for consumers, she tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
“We understand this demonstration of food safety and compliance with standards to be especially important in new and emerging industries like our own cell-cultured seafood products.”
Streamlining regulatory compliance
To aid in preparation for market entry and regulatory compliance, BlueNalu evaluated several top quality management solutions and selected TraceGains, a global company specializing in compliance, quality, and innovation software for F&B and supplement companies.
Their highly configurable system will streamline and strengthen BlueNalu’s regulatory compliance, allowing for quality control and safety data collection and review in a comprehensive electronic database while providing real-time insight into plant floor and quality operations.
The adoption of TraceGains also represents BlueNalu’s shift from pharmaceutical-grade to food-grade sourcing of food-safe components – an essential step toward cost reduction that the company anticipates will help it achieve price parity for its cell-cultured seafood products.
Scaling mahi mahi and bluefin tuna
The company plans to launch its cell-cultured mahi mahi, bluefin tuna and other species through small-scale market testing produced at its pilot-scale food production facility in San Diego, US. BlueNalu plans to break ground on its first large-scale, regional production facility in the next few years.
“Our products will be manufactured in a sanitary and controlled food production facility, resulting in products that are less susceptible to pathogenic bacteria. However, microplastics and other environmental contaminants may be found in conventional seafood products and it’s still important that we invest in food safety and quality management systems from the get-go,” Hobayan elaborates.
“Quality assurance procedures and protocols will monitor and document every stage of our product life cycle to mitigate risks before they can go to production.”
“We want to make sure that our food production processes and products adhere to the highest safety standards and we have invested in the resources, technology and other necessary tools to ensure this,” she adds.
For Cooperhouse, by implementing a robust food safety and quality assurance plan, BlueNalu can quickly and safely replicate these systems as it scales up.
“It is our goal that when consumers select BlueNalu products, they know they are getting the very best seafood, without compromise. We’re dedicated to our strategy of developing great-tasting, healthy, safe and trusted cell-cultured seafood products that support the sustainability and diversity of our oceans,” he concludes.
In April, BlueNalu teamed up with two key seafood providers in Asia – Thai Union and Mitsubishi Corporation – to accelerate a market development strategy for cell-cultured Seafood in Asia where demand is rising.
By Elizabeth Green
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