FDA, JIFSAN Travel to Bangladesh to Teach Seafood Safety

The Food and Drug Administration and the Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (JIFSAN) have sent a team of seafood specialists to Bangladesh this week to help train local officials on aquaculture safety and quality control techniques.

"Collaborating with other countries in this way not only helps to improve the quality and safety of their domestic product, but also what they export to the United States and other countries around the world," said Murray M. Lumpkin, M.D., FDA deputy commissioner for international programs.

The goal of the trip is to work with Bangladeshi officials to help the country improve the overall quality and safety of its aquaculture products for both domestic and international markets.

The training will include lectures, demonstrations, site visits, and workgroup activities. Using a "train-the-trainer" model, those who successfully complete the program will be qualified to continue training others in their country on accepted "Good Aquacultural Practices." FDA and JIFSAN, supported by cooperative partnerships, also provide materials that allow the countries to continue the training programs.

"Because of the rapid development of aquaculture, FDA's role in protecting the public health is more important than ever," said Stephen Sundlof, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. "Cooperative programs such as this will help ensure that accepted Good Aquacultural Practices are adopted and practiced around the world."

Aquaculture is the production of aquatic life such as shrimp, fish, and plants under controlled conditions for all or part of their life cycle. Over the last 20 years, the aquaculture industry has grown by more than 11 percent each year. It is now the fastest-growing segment of agriculture worldwide, accounting for 52 percent of all fish produced. In the United States, about 85 percent of the seafood consumed is imported from more than 50 different countries. Of that amount, 40 percent comes from aquaculture operations, the other 60 percent from wild harvest.

The Good Aquacultural Practices Training Program was developed by a team of seafood specialists in 2006, and was piloted in Vietnam that same year. The international training program is a joint effort between the FDA, the University of Maryland, and Virginia Tech. Since then, the program has been conducted in Thailand and Indonesia.

JIFSAN was established in 1996 through a Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Maryland and FDA. Since then, more than 800 participants in 18 countries have been trained in Good Agricultural Practices, Good Aquacultural Practices, or Commercially Sterile Packaged Foods.

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