In high-stakes visit, EU delegation coming to India to inspect seafood products
With concern mounting in Europe regarding the presence of antibiotics in Indian seafood shipments, a high-level European Union (EU) delegation is planning to visit Indian aquaculture processing factories and ports.
The delegation, comprised of two or three members, is scheduled to visit India from 21 to 28 November 2017. The group will visit Odisha first and then go to other states, including Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, the Business Standard reported, citing an Indian export agency.
The purpose of the trip is for the delegation to obtain first-hand information from places from where marine products are produced and processed, according to the agency. Besides worries over the number of shipments of Indian seafood that have contained antibiotics, the E.U. is also dissatisfied with the response it has thus far received from Indian authorities, according to the Business Standard.
The newspaper, citing Seafish regulatory affairs advisor Ivan Bartolo, who spoke representing the seafood industry in the United Kingdom, said the delegation will evaluate the performance of Indian inspection authorities and other authorized entities in their implementation of official controls concerning residues and contaminants in live animals and animal products eligible for export to the E.U.
It will also inspect products to ensure that they do not contain residues of veterinary medicinal products, pesticides, and contaminants at concentrations in excess of E.U. maximum limits, Bartolo explained.
The stakes are high for India’s seafood export sector. The European Commission is currently conducting a review of the Indian inspection process and is considering a total ban on Indian seafood product imports, which could be announced and implemented in the next few months, according to the Business Standard. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will be closely watching the E.U. review and may consider its own review, depending on the outcome, the newspaper reported.
The E.U. is the third-largest importer of Indian marine products and accounts for 18 percent of India's seafood exports. In 2016, the E.U. strengthened its inspection norms for aquaculture products sent from India with a decision to test 50 percent of consignments. Previously, 10 percent of consignments had been tested.
Many Indian exporters are greeting the European delegation with apprehension, fearing that the inspections are a step towards an E.U. decision to ban Indian seafood imports. However, SeafoodSource recently spoke to a representative of the Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI), who said the delegation’s visit will improve trade relations between the two countries. The inspection’s findings will help Indian exporters improve their processes and bring their exports up to international standards, the official said.