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News Line: FDA tabs GAA, ACC for pilot program

Third-party certification groups under microscope

 - Photo by James Wright
- James Wright
January 01, 2009

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December announced a list of international certification agencies, including the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) and the Aquaculture Certification Council (ACC), that will participate in its pilot program aimed at increasing the safety of imported farmed shrimp.

Part of President Bush's Action Plan for Import Safety, the pilot program, which will run through June 2009, will assist the FDA in moving toward broader recognition of voluntary third-party certification programs.

St. Louis-based GAA developed a set of farmed-seafood standards called Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP). The BAP are licensed by the ACC of Kirkland, Wash., which carries out inspection and certification duties. BAP standards address environmental and social responsibility, animal welfare, food safety and traceability for shrimp farms and hatcheries, tilapia and channel catfish farms and seafood processing plants.

"We believe this pilot study holds great promise for increased food safety and could prove effective in helping the FDA enhance its existing efforts," says GAA Executive Director Wally Stevens.

Other organizations the FDA selected to participate in the program include Bureau Veritas Group of Antwerp, Belgium; Inspectorate America Corp. of Houston; SGS United States Testing Co. of Rutherford, N.J.; Seafood Inspection Service, National Marine Fisheries Service; and the Thailand Department of Fisheries.

The pilot program responds to a recommendation in the President's Action Plan for Import Safety, issued in November 2007, which called for the development of voluntary third-party certification programs for foreign producers who export to the United States.

The FDA's Food Protection Plan, also issued last November, emphasizes qualified and legitimate third-party certification as a way to help verify the safety of products from both foreign and domestic food companies. - J.W.



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