Risk Management for Food Supply Chains
Public reporting on commitments related to decent working conditions is becoming a firm expectation. Regular reporting on progress regarding these commitments is part of it.
The Labor Safe Screen allows food companies to continuously monitor working conditions in seafood supply chains. We have screened 118 seafood products worldwide for 18 participating companies (and counting). A digital version, the Labor Safe Digital Certificate in Trace Register, is the first program to automate seafood product risk data from the U.S. Departments of State and Labor-ILAB. It is also a social learning opportunity with a consistent lexicon of definitions and targets.
Participating companies learn which products carry an elevated risk of being associated with modern day slavery. As a user, you will learn to see the blind spots and loopholes, and to clear them. It might mean a detailed review at the facility level. Or, it might mean asking a supplier to account for working conditions in all facilities across the chain.
Food companies use the Labor Safe Screen to perform risk-based due diligence for their products.
Product screening is not a voluntary certification program for labor safety, which would need strong enforcement mechanisms and to include workers in all levels of decision-making, governance, and enforcement. Tiered screening enables food buyers to separate products by risk threshold and to focus investigations on eliminating blind spots and promoting improvements. That’s sourcing ethically. That’s sourcing responsibly.
Knowing the power of a product’s back story is an advantage over competitors and shows regulators and your customers that you are operating at the next level, and investing in producers and their future success.
The Labor Safe Screen was validated by the Partnership for Freedom and won the grand prize to the rethink supply chains.
The Labor Safe Screen is a program for food companies to insert directly into the procurement system alongside food safety screening. Versions of the Labor Safe Screen are embedded in (1) Trace Register software for food safety and traceability and (2) the fisheries social risk screening program hosted by a coalition of fisheries conservation NGOs and led by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Seafish and Sustainable Fisheries Partnership.
The Labor Safe Screen has 3 tiers. The first tier screens products against published findings by the authorities. Tier 2 digs into the supply chain to look at supplier procedures and how protected the product and retail buyer are from forced labor. Tier 3 digs into the workplace: how protected are producers?
How Does It Work? You receive a good base map of the product supply chain to start. We add verifiable, publicly available data from the authorities. Where hotspots occur, frontline and supplier narratives are gathered. We dig in as far as you need to find exposures and to confirm products are labor safe. Your product will undergo a systematic process to build social accountability back to the base of the supply chain. Partners worldwide including UN-ACT and Labour Rights Promotion Network help you to hear the voice of producers.
For wild fisheries the process starts with the country(s) of origin for the product. All inputs to the product will be defined, including the fishing regions and fleets fishing them, country of landing, down the chain through processing and export.
For farms the chain includes the feed mills, the fish meal plants, and fisheries supplying the fish for meal in feed.
Because a sizeable fraction of seafood labor is subcontracted, just like a sizeable fraction of the raw material is brokered, the chain includes the places where trade is done through agents. You need to get past the transparency barriers where materials are mixed and lumped to know the full story. This is not forensics. The goal is to strengthen trade with a clear line of command and target for protective conditions in all aspects of production.
Your product’s chain is screened for workplace do’s and don’ts. Your suppliers will learn what’s in and out with respect to subcontracted labor, migrant worker rights and entitlements, and sourcing from areas where authorities report forced labor is significant. It doesn’t mean stopping sourcing by origin it means knowing the chain. Excercising care in the chain is like care in the garden, a little can make a big difference.
Workplace “don’ts” are clear and defined by the United Nations indicators of human trafficking.
The “do’s” are also clear. The employer has a duty to provide a safe workplace free of exposure to forced labor. We work with facility and fleet owners (vessels, farms, plants) to define and clarify all aspects of work and to protect for crew rights and entitlements so their workplaces meet the test.
How are suppliers involved? They are asked to complete an inputs and origins questionnaire. This sets a baseline for procedures, interviews, and remedies where needed. Completing the 3 tiers fulfills the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
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Contact us for a clear plan and information strategy.