Chicken of the Sea passes muster

San Diego-based Van Camp Seafood's Chicken of The Sea® is believed to be the first tuna brand to be processed within a facility adhering to the federal government's Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points program.

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Van Camp's processing plant in American Samoa reached compliance with HACCP regs last spring, two years before the U.S. Food &Drug Administration's December, 1997, deadline for seafood processors. Labels and cans with the new message weren't on the market until January so that existing stock could be used up. Can supplier Van Can (San Diego, CA) litho prints lids with the compliance message. Can labels, from Gamse Lithographic (Baltimore, MD), also indicate compliance. At the Samoan plant, tuna is inspected from receiving through shipping stages. This includes packing, seaming, retorting, labeling and casing. The plant supplies the well-known tuna brand for the U.S., processing some six million cases/yr, says Daniel Sullivan, Van Camp's senior vice president of production operations. These include two-piece steel cans sold at retail in weights ranging from 31/4 oz to 121/4 oz, and three-piece steel cans for a 661/2-oz institutional size. Sullivan admits added costs come with the change in package appearance, but he says they are worth it. "Our intent," he says, "is that customers understand that by maintaining a full-time inspector at our plant, we're giving them the assurance that the product meets quality and safety standards they might expect. We hope it gives us a competitive advantage."

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