By Kimberley Donoghue
PBN Web Editor
Imagine walking into Taranta, an Italian-Peruvian restaurant in Boston, with a craving for one thing – fresh, locally caught fish.
The waiter places the elegantly decorated dish in front of you; it looks delicious, but how do you know that it has not been shipped in from California or is weeks old?
With a QR code … on your plate.
Jose Duarte, the green-conscious chef and owner of Taranta, recently began designing QR codes for his dishes, so customers can access recipes as well as find out where – and when – their meals were caught. For special events, customers can even scan the code, imprinted with squid ink, right from their plates.
Duarte’s QR codes for fish lead back to a small initiative, called Trace and Trust, which began with three Rhode Island fishermen and a handful of local restaurants.
The Trace and Trust website allows fishermen to identify where and when they caught their fish through “Fish IDs.”
It all began in October when Point Judith fishermen Stephen Arnold, Chris Brown and Bob Wescott sat down to brainstorm ideas on how to combat seafood fraud and mislabeling issues from their small corner of the world.
“For me personally, it was seeing all of the fish that we bring in here in Point Judith immediately leave the state. Nothing stays local. That’s what drove me. I wanted to change that and see more of my fish stay here,” Arnold told Providence Business News.
The three agreed to use the Trace and Trust website, provided by the fishermen consultancy CapLog Group. The fishermen, through their smartphones, send out a blast email to the list of 20-some restaurants that currently use Trace and Trust, detailing what species they are going after that day so chefs can place their orders. Sometimes Arnold will even send a picture of the fish that are going to appear at the chefs’ door.
“I was frustrated to see several high-quality fishermen exhibit tremendously ethical fishing behavior and take spectacular care of their seafood from the time they caught it until the time they delivered it to their buyers,” said Michael Clayton, executive director of CapLog. “I saw it get mixed in with the rest of the seafood and [those fishermen] get paid a price that was similar to fishermen who may not have iced [their] fish and threw it on the dock to let the seagulls fly over it.”