Wild caught seafood safety practices must begin on the fishing vessel and continue through the supply chain to the consumer. The way a fish is caught and stored is one of the most important elements of seafood safety and quality. Seafood is highly perishable and quality quickly deteriorates if it is mishandled or abused. Thus the good harvesting, handling, and storage practices that minimize the risk of food safety problems also help to preserve the value of the product.
One of the most common foodborne illness related to seafood is Scombrotoxin (histamine) food poisoning. The illness is not caused by a human pathogen but rather is linked to high levels of histamine that occur in certain species of fish when they are subjected to time and temperature abuse. Certain bacteria produce the enzyme histidine decarboxylase. This enzyme reacts with histidine, a naturally occurring amino acid that is present in larger quantities in these species of fish. The result is the formation of scombrotoxin (histamine).
The control of Scombrotoxin formation should begin as quickly as possible after capture because once one of the susceptible species dies, whether in the water attached to a long line or sitting on the deck of a boat, it starts the process of forming high levels of histamine. Histamine can continue to be formed in fish even if the bacteria are not active. The bacteria also remain stable while in the frozen state and may be reactivated very rapidly after thawing. The bacteria can be inactivated by cooking, however once histamine is produced, it cannot be eliminated by heat (including retorting) or freezing. Good harvesting, handling, and storing practices are therefore essential to preventing Scombrotoxin food poisoning. The GFvP program addresses these practices in detail and also covers the other most common food safety problems associated with wild caught seafood and the various control strategies.
The program covers the U.S. FDA regulatory program. In most programs a U.S. FDA official assists with teaching and discusses how to conduct inspections and how samples are collected at the border and are analyzed. Details of how a processor gets on and off Detention Without Physical Examination (DWPE) are covered as well.
Qualified course participants may earn Seafood HACCP Certification through a process sanctioned by the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO).
The GFvP program is based on the Train-the-Trainer concept. Trainees in this program will in turn train other groups, including the vessel captain and workers, processors, government officials and others associated with the industry.
Seafood HACCP Certification
The adoption of HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) protocols is critical to the safety of seafood. As an adjunct to the GFvP program JIFSAN now offers a multi-faceted training program in seafood HACCP. Participants in the program must start by registering and completing the online Seafood HACCP Alliance course offered by Cornell University. Candidates then complete the face-to-face portion of the training as an added component of JIFSAN’s standard GFvP program. On completion participants earn AFDO/Seafood Alliance Seafood HACCP Certification.