In 2015 alone, the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) rejected a whopping 389 lines of shrimp products. Reasons for rejection were all related to banned antibiotics. Of these 34 lines of shrimp were from India. That is about half of the 68 refused entry lines of shrimp in the last 13 years. A record for the country which considers the USA as its largest export market when it comes to seafood.
In a bid to bring down the number of rejects, the USFDA was engaged with Indian regulators and technical officers to help them adhere with US’ shrimp importing norms. The agency has now decided to train local marine export community.
Mathew T Thomas, Director, USFDA India Office, told BusinessLine, “We are now training people involved in fishing and exporting of shrimps. We have recently had such sessions in Vizag and Kochi.”
In 2016, USFDA revealed that it rejected 208 imported seafood line in April again due to banned antibiotics residue. 17 or 8.2 % (seven companies from three different countries including India) of these were shrimp.
The US agency had also trained pharmaceuticals industry insiders and regulators in 2014 and 2015 regarding US quality and safety norms compliance including that on good manufacturing practices, Thomas said.
“USFDA and Indian authorities are moving towards designing a national action plan in these areas,” he observed.
US authorities have become increasingly vigilant as antibiotics residue and anti-microbial residue has been found in Indian shrimps, chickens and livestock.
A USFDA official said that in certain cases of imports from India pre-shipment inspection was being done by USFDA. “We have been exchanging notes on quality and safety inspections. In future, we look forward to sharing inspection reports,” he added.
A MoU signed by the export inspection council, under the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the USFDA, has brought about this collaboration.
The MoU is being looked as a precursor for product specific memoranda of understanding between Indian and US agencies. Especially in the areas of food safety and sharing expertise in support of mutually beneficial public health outcomes.