GAA responds to shrimp antibiotic claims
Responding to SeafoodSource’s 15 August article calling attention to farmed shrimp imports that have been refused entry by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over banned antibiotic residue, the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) is assuring the industry that it does not tolerate abuse of antibiotics.
The article stated that, out of the 197 seafood shipments that FDA refused entry to in July, 18 (9.1 percent) were shrimp products that contained banned antibiotics. Plus, the FDA has repeatedly refused shipments from four primary Indian exporters: Jagadeesh Marine Exports, Five Star Marine Exports Pvt. Ltd. Kay Kay Exports, which are certified through GAA’s Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) program.
The BAP’s finfish and crustacean farm standards prohibit antibiotics, drugs and other chemicals, and farms are required to record any antibiotic use. If antibiotics that are not prohibited for use in both the local and importing country are used for therapeutic purposes, periodic residue tests are required after the withdrawal period to ensure food safety regulations are met.
“The Global Aquaculture Alliance does not tolerate abuse of antibiotics in aquaculture, and GAA’s Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) third-party certification program provides a mechanism to follow up on alleged infractions,” said GAA in a statement issued to SeafoodSource.
In addition FDA’s detention of shrimp with banned antibiotics shows that the agency’s import inspection measures are working, according to the National Fisheries Institute (NFI). “A recent increase in import refusals is an illustration of just how effective FDA’s HACCP system is,” said Gavin Gibbons, vice president of communications at NFI. “FDA is rightly concentrated on companies that have not met U.S. standards…The targeting of specific exporters is an example of FDA’s ability to narrow its effective enforcement focus on bad actors.”
In order to police BAP members, the BAP program monitors the FDA detention list frequently. “If a BAP-certified facility lands on the list for a prohibited antibiotic, the BAP program contacts to the facility in question, as was the case with the three companies cited in the…article,” GAA said. “Once contacted, a facility is then required to take corrective action. A facility that fails to take corrective action is suspended or de-certified.”
In addition, GAA developed a more rigorous risk-based testing methodology last year, which requires automatic heightened testing of processing plants to detect residues of antibiotics. “If residues of prohibited antibiotics are detected by a third-party auditor as part of the BAP certification process or by the company itself as part of routine testing, the automatic heightened testing kicks in. So the BAP program does not necessarily wait on an alert from a government agency to take action,” GAA said.
“Such processing plants are subjected to accelerated testing of its product through a third-party laboratory for a six-month period to prove that its product is free of residues of prohibited antibiotics,” they added. Typically, BAP-certified processing plants are subjected to semi-annual or quarterly testing.
Restrictions on antibiotic use are addressed in great detail in the BAP finfish and crustacean farm standards, its salmon farm standards and its seafood processing plant standards. “The BAP program is well positioned to address abuse of antibiotics in aquaculture, as it’s the world’s most comprehensive third-party aquaculture certification program with environmental, social, food-safety, animal-health and traceability standards for hatcheries, farms, feed mills and processing plants,” GAA said.