Good Aquacultural Practices
The Good Aquacultural Practices Training Program (GAqP)
Food safety has become an issue of increasing concern in the US. An obvious approach to assuring the safety of our food is to have the various government agencies with responsibility inspect and certify all foods against chemical and biological contamination. When one considers the enormity and potential expense of this task it becomes clear that it is not a reasonable approach. A better approach is to combine limited inspection with on farm education in good agricultural practices that will improve the safety of foods shipped from the farms. Nowhere is this more important than in foods imported from overseas, production sources over which the US has little control other than shutting off imports. For exporters the potential closure of US markets is a strong incentive to cooperate. (In the last few years FDA has detained approximately 10% of the imported shrimp shipments at port of entry because they tested positive for Salmonella.)
Although aquaculture production controls are enforced in the United States, the majority of our aquaculture-produced seafood is imported. Shrimp is the most traded seafood product in the world. In the United States, shrimp imports represent 88% of the total shrimp consumed (the vast majority from aquaculture),38% of the total value of all seafood products imported, and 29% of the value of all raw marine fishery products available in the U.S. marketplace. Shrimp is also the most consumed seafood in the United States, increasing from a previous record 1.68 Kgs per person in 2002 to 1.82 Kgs in 2010.
Need for Good Aquaculture Practices Training
The majority of the real and perceived concerns with the safety and quality of raw aquaculture products originate at the farm level. These concerns include pathogen contamination (e.g. Salmonella), chemical contamination, and misused or unapproved chemotherapeutic drugs. All of these risks generally occur at the farm level where there is currently little to no training or regulatory oversight. Seafood processors, in contrast, have all types of food safety training available to them and usually have their own safety and quality control programs; are required worldwide to comply with HACCP and GMPs; and must undergo regulatory inspections by officials at the local, state, and federal level.
There are a number of examples of illness from biological contamination of imported shrimp and the detection of unapproved chemicals (only one drug is approved for use on shrimp in the US, in some countries as many as 300 different drugs are approved.)
What is the GAqP Train-the-Trainer Program?
The GAqP Train-the-Trainer Program is a five-day in-country training course for extension specialists or their equivalent and other individuals from the country with responsibilities for education and outreach on aquaculture food safety.
JIFSAN has worked with the Johnson Diversey Corporation through the Johnson Diversey International Food Safety Initiative (JDIFSI) to develop the Good Aquaculture Practices Training Program (GAqP). A development and teaching team was formed consisting of seafood specialists from the University of Maryland, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, the FDA and JohnsonDiversey.
A pilot program was offered in Viet Nam on November 13-17, 2006. It is noteworthy that the pilot program coincided with the President's visit, with approval of a bill to normalize US trade relations with Viet Nam and is prelude to its entrance to the WTO. Since its initial offer it has been held in seven countries.
- 2006 - Vietnam
- 2008 - Thailand, Indonesia
- 2009, 2010, 2011 - Bangladesh
- 2010 - Malaysia
- 2011 - China
- 2012 - India
A typical program includes lectures, presentations, problem analysis, pond farm and production facility visits and evaluation. A key component of the program is the on farm and production facility visit. These visits allow the participants to evaluate their local practices and make recommendations for improvement under the guidance of the teaching team. The GAqPs recommendations are globally applicable and independent of location or agricultural and industrial circumstances. Future trainers can use the manual and materials free of charge. The course includes a module on Effective Training to assist in developing the best program to fit available teaching resources, audience needs and cultural and political circumstances.
Typical Program Content
- Aquaculture Product Safety and Consumer Health
- Trade and Aquaculture Products
- HACCP Applications in Shrimp Hatchery Operations
- Growout Pond and Water Quality Management & Water Quality
- Traceability From Farm to Table
- Prerequisite Programs for Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs)
- Effective Cleaning and Sanitizing Procedures
- Food Laws and Regulations
- Use of Chemotherapeutics and Antibiotics
- Exercise Hand washing
- Field Trip Exercise
- Standard Operating Procedures
- HACCP Principles for Control of Antibiotic Residues
- Developing an Effective Training Program