Seafood HACCP and safety programs help sustain Louisiana’s coastal communities

Evelyn Watts

Louisiana ranks second behind Alaska for domestic seafood harvesting by volume. Seafood is one of the main sources of lean protein around the world, and its consumption continues to grow annually. To guarantee the safety and wholesomeness of seafood products, state and federal agencies work together regulating the seafood industry.

Since 1996, the LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant have led seafood processing safety programs in Louisiana. In 1997, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) regulation became final. This regulation mandates that all individuals engaged in seafood processing for commercial purposes must develop and implement a HACCP plan. It also requires that in each seafood processing facility, a person trained in the seven principles of HACCP must keep and review all plant records. Also in 2016, catfish inspections were moved from the FDA to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service (USDA/FSIS), which also requires a HACCP plan and documentation.

To assist the seafood industry in complying with regulatory requirements for seafood safety, the national Seafood HACCP Alliance provides education and training. The structure of this program is based on collaboration among federal and state food inspection officials, academic food safety researchers and educators, and various representatives from the seafood and aquaculture industry. Seafood specialists from the AgCenter and Sea Grant have played a lead role educating the Louisiana seafood industry about keeping products safe through the supply chain.

The seafood HACCP inspection regulation mandated that all seafood processors would be in compliance by December 1997. In response to these new training requirements, between October 1996 and August 1997, the AgCenter and Sea Grant offered a series of 15 workshops along the Louisiana coast, targeting shrimp, crawfish, finfish, crab and oyster industries. Most attendees were owners and managers. Following this first series of workshops, the AgCenter and Sea Grant collaborated with the FDA and the Louisiana Department of Health to continue to offer two-and-a-half-day basic seafood HACCP workshops. Through time, plant floor supervisors and food handlers have attended as well.

In addition to developing and implementing a HACCP plan, seafood HACCP regulations require processors to monitor good sanitary conditions and practices during processing. In 2000, the Seafood HACCP Alliance developed the one-day training curriculum “Sanitation Control Procedures for Processing Fish and Fishery Products” to assist the industry in developing and implementing sanitation control procedures. The AgCenter and Sea Grant participated with Seafood HACCP Alliance developing this curriculum, which has been offered twice a year since 2001.

The AgCenter and Sea Grant continue collaborating with the Seafood HACCP Alliance, reviewing and updating training curricula. Through the seafood HACCP and seafood safety workshops, more than 2,650 people from the state, national and international seafood industries have been reached.

Evelyn Watts is an assistant professor in the School of Nutrition and Food Sciences.

(This article appears in the fall 2018 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)

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Pictured from left, Kimberly Tucker, John Nguyen, David LeRay, Lance Nacio and Mark Hoffmann work together to develop HACCP plans specific to their products. Basic Seafood HACCP workshop Feb. 3, 2010, at the LSU AgCenter, Baton Rouge. Photo by Paula Ouder

12/14/2018 8:54:36 PM
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