[Alaska Sea Grant]

New FDA seafood safety regulations take effect

Date: December 17, 1997
Contact: Listed at end of release

FAIRBANKS, Alaska--The nation's seafood processors have until Thursday, December 18, 1997, to implement stringent new federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) safety regulations. The regulations require that seafood processors train safety-assurance personnel and follow procedures called Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP).

HACCP procedures focus on key steps in seafood processing where special attention is needed to assure food safety. In Alaska, where more than half the nation's seafood--worth more than $2 billion--is harvested, the new regulations will affect more than 750 seafood processors. The industry has been training to meet the new standards for the past two years, according to Don Kramer, a seafood quality control specialist and industry trainer with the University of Alaska Sea Grant Program in Fairbanks.

"We've conducted training workshops with most of the industry in Alaska and with several of the major processors in the Seattle area as well," said Kramer. "We've trained more than 500 people who will oversee implementation of the new standards in their plants."

Federal law sets December 18, 1997, as the deadline for HACCP to be in use by all processors engaged in interstate seafood commerce. At that point, the local, state and federal agencies which monitor seafood safety will begin checking for HACCP compliance. By contrast, HACCP plans for the beef and poultry industries are to be phased in by the year 2000. HACCP procedures were developed to improve the safety of the nation's food supplies.

"There are a dozen or so companies that process 80 to 85 percent of the seafood in the state," said Kevin O'Sullivan, technical program director with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. "I know that they all have trained people. I'd say the industry is well on its way to complying."

To help processors meet the new standards, ASMI and Sea Grant will continue to offer training workshops. To find out if you are required to meet the new FDA seafood regulations, contact Manny Soares at the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, 907-269-7500. For a schedule of classes, call Don Kramer at the Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program, 907-274-9691; or visit the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program HACCP site on the worldwide web at www.uaf.edu/map/haccp.html.

Sources for Information

Don Kramer, chair, Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program, University of Alaska, 907-274-9691

Kevin O'Sullivan, technical program director, Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, 907-465-5570

Chuck Crapo, seafood quality specialist, Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program, 907-486-1500

Ron Dearborn, director, Alaska Sea Grant Program, 907-474-7949

Manny Soares, seafood inspector, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, 907-269-7500

Brian Himelbloom, seafood microbiologist, Fishery Industrial Technology Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 907-486-1529

Scott Smiley, director, Fishery Industrial Technology Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 907-486-1500

The Alaska Sea Grant College Program is a marine research, education and outreach service headquartered at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. It is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in partnership with the state of Alaska and private industry.

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