In January 2015, Georgia began requiring companies based in the state to have a staff member trained in seafood safety, in order to receive a seafood wholesale license. Without this training, specifically known as Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), approximately 200 Georgia seafood dealers and 148 retailers would not be permitted to operate. UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant are the only organizations in Georgia and one of only a handful in the southeast to regularly offer this specialized food safety course.
On October 6-8, 2015, UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant hosted a three-day HACCP training, certifying forty people from 21 companies and two state agencies. Attendees receive a Certificate of Course Completion issued by the Seafood HACCP Alliance and Association of Food & Drug Officials. The course included attendees from Georgia companies cumulatively employing approximately 12,000 people.
Federal and state regulations require that all facilities processing or distributing seafood have at least one employee or consultant on payroll trained in seafood HACCP. It is a preventive food safety system that identifies significant hazards associated with a company’s products and processes and requires the company to develop and implement a plan to control these hazards.
There has been a 51-percent drop in fish-attributed food-borne outbreaks in the U.S. from 2005 to 2012. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider the implementation and associated training of seafood HACCP regulations as a key factor in this decrease.
UGA Marine Extension seafood specialist Tori Stivers serves as a Seafood HACCP-Alliance supervisory instructor. For this training, she was assisted by additional teachers from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
HACCP training not only helps companies stay in business, it gives employees a valuable skill set that can help them maintain employment. In addition, four employees with the Georgia Department of Agriculture and one from South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control took the course to help them learn how to inspect and regulate seafood companies.