Training course focuses on seafood safety

Richard Bogren  |  1/4/2011 1:14:28 AM

News Release Distributed 02/19/10

A safe food supply doesn’t just happen, as 28 people could tell you after attending a three-day training session on Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points, commonly called HACCP, at the LSU AgCenter in Baton Rouge.

The latest AgCenter class, who were learning about seafood safety, included individuals from Louisiana, Alaska, California, Colorado, Texas, Illinois and Arkansas. Participants represented processing company owners, boat owners, dock owners and company employees as well as FDA employees who attended to become HACCP certified as part of their responsibilities as field inspectors.

“Anyone who processes seafood must have a certified individual in HACCP for seafood,” said Dr. Lucina Lampila, an LSU AgCenter seafood specialist and registered dietitian.

HACCP is a management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical and physical hazards from raw material production, procurement and handling, to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product.

That includes everyone in the processing chain, from dock to final processing and even fishing vessels that process on board, Lampila said.

The course taught at the AgCenter uses a curriculum approved by the Association of Food and Drug Officials and recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the federal agency responsible for seafood safety.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is responsible for safety of other meat and poultry products.

Instructors for the HACCP course included LSU AgCenter faculty members Dr. David Bankston and Ashley Bond Gutierrez, FDA field inspectors David LeRay and Larry Estefan and Gary Lopinto with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals in New Orleans, who presented a session on oyster safety.

“HACCP involves learning what the hazards are in processing seafood and identifying critical limits and control points,” Lampila said. “You have to know what the hazards are and control them.”

For example, Lampila said, “In cooking crabs identifying and killing pathogens is critical. Cooking crabs in a rolling boil for 15 minutes or when the internal temperature reaches 185 degrees will kill any pathogens.”

“Control also can be with food ingredients, but processors need to know the maximum concentration of these ingredients that can be safe to consume,” she said. “For example, sulfite is used with shrimp, so the control process must control excess sulfites and make absolutely certain the label indicates sulfides are present.”

Freezing is another control point. “It can halt growth of pathogens and kill parasites at cold-enough temperatures,” Lampila said.

Along with bacteria and other pathogens, processors also must be aware of physical hazards that include foreign material.

“Whether the product is fresh, frozen or cooked, anyone handling seafood must follow required regulations,” Lampila said.

An important part of the class is learning how to identify hazards and control points, and then do what’s necessary to maintain food safety. In addition, record keeping is important.

“If they don’t document what they did, ‘it never happened,’” Lampila said of the HACCP process. “Records have to be reviewed within one week by another individual in the organization.”

Rick Bogren

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