Ocean Garden Products
Shrimp News Interviews John Filose
On November 20, 2008, I interviewed John Filose, vice president of Ocean Garden Products, which owns shrimp farms, hatcheries, processing plants, procurement centers and fishing fleets throughout northwest Mexico.
In the state of Sonora, spread across six farms, OGP has 2,800 hectares of shrimp ponds and four shrimp hatcheries.
Headquartered in San Diego, California, USA, OGP’s day-to-day operations are handled by Rodrigo de la Serna (operations), Frank Barrancotto (finance and administration) and John Filose (sales and marketing).
Shrimp News: The last time I talked with you—wow, that was three years ago, right after you consolidated under new ownership—about 40% of your shrimp came from commercial shrimp fishing and about 60% from farming. What’s the ratio like today?
John Filose (looking through some records): From September 1, 2007, through August 2008, during a real poor wild season, our production was 25% wild caught and 75% farmed. From September 1, 2008, through November 14, 2008, the ratio was 30% wild-caught and 70% farmed.
Shrimp News: Long-term, do you think the percentage of farmed shrimp will continue to increase?
John Filose: Yes, at the very best, production from the wild fishery will remain stable, while farmed production expands. The Mexican government has established a fund to buy fishermen out, both bay and offshore fishermen, and some of them are taking the offer and getting out of shrimp fishing. Right now, there are too many fishermen for the size of the resource. The Government wants to thin their numbers down so that it can better manage the fishery. It heavily regulates commercial shrimp fishing. The season used to start in the middle of August; now it starts in the middle of September. We used to fish to the end of May; now the last boats go out in February. It’s a much shorter season.
Shrimp News: How does this year’s farmed crop look?
John Filose: Compared to last year, we’re getting less of the smaller sizes, less 36/40s, less 31/35s, less 26/30/s, and more 16/20s and 21/25s—the reverse of what we forecast in July 2008, when all of a sudden the weather turned hot and shrimp growth took off. Right now, our total production from the farms and fishery is right on our five-year average. We don’t know what the full year will look like yet because we will be harvesting shrimp through the end of this month and into next month. We may get another ten million pounds. So we will probably end the year with 30 million pounds from the farms and 12 million pounds from the fishery. That’s over 70% farmed, and the trend toward farmed shrimp should continue.
Shrimp News: Do your farms supply all your shrimp needs?
John Filose: No, we purchase wild and aqua shrimp, not just from our owners, but from many other Mexican producers.
Shrimp News: These are tough times. How are shrimp sales holding up?
John Filose: All things considered, we’re doing okay, but, yes, these are tough times. Sales aren’t as good as they were last year, but we’re selling shrimp every day and we’re hanging in there. Christmas is going to happen, there will be a New Year’s, there will be a Super Bowl, there will be Valentine’s Day, there will be Lent, and there will be Spring and Summer. All of these things will happen, and people will continue to consume shrimp. OGP is going to continue to produce the highest quality shrimp available in the United States. Our customers like our reputation for taking care of business and delivering a high-quality product.
Some of the product from around the world is just not very good. You need look no further than a country-by-country price chart showing similar products to see which countries are producing the low-quality shrimp. A lot of bad product finds its way to the USA consumer, and it only takes one bad experience to lose that consumer forever. We’ve been delivering a high-quality product for decades now. Our customers are sticking with us.
Shrimp News: Are you doing anything with organic shrimp?
John Filose: Sergio Mazón, president and chief executive officer of OGP, would like to produce organic shrimp, but we can’t do that until we know what the rules are going to be. Once we know the rules, we will probably begin producing organic shrimp for the USA market.
Shrimp News: Do you have any new shrimp products in the pipeline?
John Filose: We like the idea of a peel-and-eat shrimp product for restaurants. And for the home market, too! A big basket of steamed shrimp, some good friends, a couple of beers, French bread, good conversation, old newspapers catching the debris—what could be better than that?
Shrimp News: You once said that there was no difference between fresh shrimp and frozen shrimp. What did you mean by that?
John Filose: Because the shell protects the shrimp meat, there is no difference between fresh shrimp and frozen shrimp once they are cooked. None! If you defrost shrimp properly and cook it side by side with fresh shrimp, you can’t tell the difference. We’ve done lots of tests. There is no difference. Now, if you mess up the defrosting, if you run it under water too long, if you leave it out too long—then there’s a difference.
Shrimp News: I’ve heard a lot about the domestic shrimp market in Mexico. How big is it?
John Filose: It’s not as big as it used to be. It was stronger when the peso was 10 to the dollar; now it’s 13 to the dollar. So the market is not as strong as it was this time last year. We sell some shrimp in the Mexican market, but the overwhelming majority of our shrimp travels north to the United States.
Shrimp News: Are you doing anything new on the farms? With feeds? With hatcheries? With aeration? With your farming strategy?
John Filose: Yes, we’re taking all of those variables into account and attempting to manage them better. We want to bring the very best management practices to our shrimp farming operations, good animal husbandry to use an old ag term. Our owners are all ag people. All of them are in some other agricultural commodity like pork, poultry, eggs or produce. They know the importance of good management practices.
Shrimp News: Are you doing anything new with marketing?
John Filose: We’re really working hard to integrate marketing with the rest of our operation. We’re constantly updating our website to make it more appealing to consumers and to our customers. We use part of the site to communicate and train our sales people. Shawn Hester, our director of marketing, works very closely with the National Fisheries Institute and with the Shrimp Council, which is part of NFI. He’s part of a subgroup that’s initiating a new project on how to get more information about shrimp to consumers. I encourage your readers to find out about NFI and the Shrimp Council.
While at Ocean Garden Products, I picked up a packet of product literature. Here are some excerpts from it:
Javier Corella (President and CEO of Ocean Garden Products, after the company’s fiftieth anniversary): “We look forward to another 50 years of business success distinguished by a renewed commitment to premium-quality ‘Authentic Mexican Shrimp’, sustainability and economic integrity. Our integrated approach to the production of the top-of-the-line Mexican shrimp—from farming and fishing to processing and marketing—gives weight to our unique flavor profile, natural product qualities and seal of authenticity.”
Traceability: “Through a single barcode, Ocean Garden’s quality control staff has instant access to product information, including the processing plant, shrimp species (wild or farmed), brand, size, weight, color, production lot number, description (such as peeled and deveined tail-on), and UPC retail code, which expedites inspection and evaluation processes. Traceability stickers are included on both inner cartons and master cases.”
Authentic Mexican Shrimp: “Farmed Mexican shrimp contain no artificial ingredients. Because they are raised in low-density ponds with a high rate of seawater exchange, antibiotics like chloramphenicol aren’t necessary to counter the ills of overcrowding. In this vertically integrated industry, even the fishmeal is natural and sustainably produced, relying upon wild-harvest species with short life cycles, like sardines, anchovies and other small fish that can be naturally replaced within one year.”
“The minimal processing of all Mexican shrimp—wild and farmed—maintains this natural status. Many seafood processors use phosphates, including sodium tripolyphospate (STP) to bind moisture during freezing and add weight to the product. Chefs, retailers and consumers alike can educate themselves to detect inferior shrimp that have been overtreated with STP. Cooked shrimp will have a shiny or waxy, translucent appearance. Water will seep out when the shrimp is bitten. The treated shrimp will have a spongy or rubbery consistency and a fishy taste when chewed, giving the impression that it’s not fully cooked.”
“Consumers can easily review the ingredient panel on shrimp packaging to confirm the presence of STP or salt additives. Ocean Garden does not use chemical additives for its headless Mexican shrimp. The ingredients list includes only—Mexican Shrimp.”
Information: John Filose, Ocean Garden Products, Inc., 10085 Scripps Ranch Court, San Diego, California 92131 USA (phone 858-790-3230, fax 858-790-3333, email firstname.lastname@example.org, web page http://www.oceangarden.com).
Source: John Filose, interview by Bob Rosenberry, Shrimp News International. San Diego, California, November 20, 2008.
Larval Diets for Mud Crabs
Abstract: This article presents an overview of recent progress on the nutrition of mud crab (Scylla serrata) larvae. Recently published results of dietary trials with S. serrata larvae have helped build a basic framework of knowledge concerning the dietary requirements of this species, and these advances will undoubtedly upgrade hatchery production, which traditionally has depended heavily on live food such as rotifers and Artemia nauplii. Many aspects of larvae mud crab nutrition are still not fully understood and further studies are required in order to develop an optimized diet. The purpose of this review is to summarize the information that has been published to date and to highlight areas where more research is needed. Key subjects are assessed under the following major headings: problems associated with use of live food in larval culture, development of a formulated diet for hatchery production of S. serrata larvae, and nutritional requirements for protein, lipid and carbohydrates.
Source: Aquaculture. A review of recent progress toward development of a formulated microbound diet for mud crab, Scylla serrata, larvae and their nutritional requirements. May-Helen Holme (aims@jcu, Australian Institute of Marine Science, School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia), Chaoshu Zeng and Paul C. Southgat. Volume 286, Issues 164-175, Page 283, January 2009.
Ervin Vidor’s Seafarm, The First Shrimp Farm in Australia
In the late 1970s, Sydney businessman Ervin Vidor was told there would be a world food crisis in 2010. He was advised to get into aquaculture.
In 1984, after extensive research and investment, he built Seafarm, Australia’s first shrimp farm, in Innisfail, Queensland. He also built a hatchery and processing plant. When he took home six shrimp from the first, 50-kilogram harvest, his wife looked at them and said: “Is that what you’ve spent $3 million on? Each of those shrimp cost us half a million dollars.”
In 1986, Seafarm opened a second farm in Cardwell. The first farm had four shrimp ponds; the Cardwell farm, 126. A third farm was opened in Mossman in 2003 with 28 ponds. Seafarm markets most of its production in Australia (95%) under the “Crystal Bay” brand.
Seafarm raises the banana shrimp (Penaeus merguiensis). Over the years it has been able to select broodstock with desirable characteristics including larger size and better flavor. Banana shrimp are a lighter shade than the tiger (P. monodon) and kuruma (P. japonicus) shrimp produced on other farms in Australia. They’re sold fresh, frozen in blocks and individually quick-frozen. And some are sold whole, fresh, as sashimi grade. To make sashimi grade, each shrimp has to be unmarked, undamaged and exactly the right size. For every ton of shrimp taken from the ponds on any given day, about 300 kilograms are sashimi grade. Whether fresh or frozen, all shrimp pass through a chilled, lightly salted brine to enhance flavor.
Seafarm is one of the largest of about 35 shrimp farms in Australia, which produce about 4,000 metric tons annually. Most of the country’s shrimp farms are in northern Queensland, although there are three farms in northern New South Wales. Most are small, family-operated businesses producing for the domestic market.
Source: SMH.com.au (The Sydney Morning Herald). Here comes the raw prawn. John Newton. December 9, 2008.
Farmed Shrimp Available Fresh 12 Months of the Year
A number of factors have combined to give farmed shrimp a competitive edge this holiday season, according to Dr. Trevor Anderson, president of the Australia Prawn Farmers Association. “Australian consumers are now showing a clear preference for Australian farmed shrimp as the product is available fresh for 12 months of the year and has very consistent quality, size and flavor,” said Anderson.
Consumers looking for assistance with their selection of shrimp this Christmas can go to the Association’s website, which includes tips on buying and cooking the best shrimp. The site is designed to increase consumer’s confidence when buying shrimp. “The best tip for consumers is to find a quality retailer who buys Australian,” Dr. Anderson said. “To be sure, customers should ask their retailer whether the product is imported or Australian.”
“For fresh Australian farmed shrimp consumers can expect to pay between $17.34 and $24.28 per kilo.”
Alvin Henderson, Managing Director, Royal Mayan Shrimp Farms, Ltd., in Belize, sent this nice product endorsement to Stephen G. Newman, Ph.D., President, Aqua-In-Tech, Inc., in Lynnwood, Washington, USA:
In early 2007, we began using Aqua-In-Tech’s tableted probiotic, PRO4000X, on our shrimp farm in the southern part of Belize. We had worked with Aqua-In-Tech’s powdered product in past cycles and felt that the tablets offered an innovative approach to targeted pond bottom delivery and elected to use the tablets in all of our 23 ponds. We stocked the farm at the usual densities using the same seed sources that we have used in prior years. Feed came from the same suppliers as well.
We are pleased with the results that we observed. Using these tablets on a consistent basis allowed us to dramatically cut back on our water exchange. The savings in fuel consumption have been significant, greatly offsetting the cost of the product. We also saw a dramatic increase in the average growth rate of the animals from previous cycles, with almost a 15% increase in weekly growth rates. Other benefits included a reduction in the incidence and severity of diseases due to bacteria. We also have noted changes in the overall composition of the algae in the ponds as well and cleaner pond bottoms. Second cycle results are confirming these first cycle observations. We whole heartedly endorse the use of this product and have found it to be a cost effective tool that has had a significant impact on our productivity and profitability.
Information: Alvin Henderson, Managing Director, Royal Mayan Shrimp Farms, Ltd., Savannah Area, Independence Village, Stann Creek District, Belize, Central America (phone 501-520-3055, fax 501-520-3011, email email@example.com).
Information: Stephen G. Newman, Ph.D., President, Aqua-In-Tech, Inc., 6722 162nd Place SW, Lynnwood, WA 98037 USA (phone 425-787-5218, fax 425-741-0857, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, webpage http://www.aqua-in-tech.com).
Sources: Email from Stephen Newman to Shrimp News International on December 11, 2008, with attached press release and testimonial.
The Optimal Glaze for Shrimp
Ice-glazing is applied to IQF frozen shrimp to protect it from undesirable quality changes during storage.
This study looks at the effect of initial frozen shrimp temperature on glaze uptake, glaze time and glaze thickness.
Shrimp were frozen in a spiral freezer (-35 degrees C for 15 minutes), transferred to an air blast freezer until their core temperature reached -18 degrees C, -25 degrees C or -30 degrees C, submitted to the glazing process, and stored at -18 degrees C for 180 days. Glazing percentage, pH and N-TVB levels (a freshness indicator) were monitored every 45 days.
The study demonstrated the effectiveness of the glazing process as a protective agent for frozen shrimp. A reasonable range of water uptake could be between 15% and 20% to guarantee the final quality.
The study, The effect of glaze uptake on storage quality of frozen shrimp, was published in the January 2009 issue of the Journal of Food Engineering.
Source: Seafood.com (an online, subscription-based, fisheries news service). Dalhousie researchers study optimal glaze for shrimp. Ken Coons (phone 781-861-1441, email firstname.lastname@example.org). Editor and Publisher, John Sackton (phone 781-861-1441, email email@example.com). December 2, 2008.
Job—Shrimp Farm, Junior Technician
Location: Karlapalem, Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh, India.
Salary: $82.64 a month.
Closing Date: January 20, 2009.
Qualifications: Fresh or one-year’s experience, with fisheries related diploma or degree.
Description: “The candidate should stay in the farm. Every day, he should take the water parameter reading and other farming activities.”
Source: AquaNic (The Aquaculture Network Information Center, a gateway to the world’s electronic aquaculture resources). Jobs Directory in cooperation with the WAS Employment Service. Search jobs. Shrimp Farm Jr. Technician. December 29, 2008.
Job—Shrimp Hatchery Technician
Salary: Based on experience.
Closing Date: January 30, 2009.
Qualifications: Biology degree, experience at a shrimp hatchery or
maturation facility, immediate placement.
Contact: Jay. B (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Source: AquaNic (The Aquaculture Network Information Center, a gateway to the world’s electronic aquaculture resources). Jobs Directory in cooperation with the WAS Employment Service. Search jobs. Shrimp Hatchery Technician. December 30, 2008.
Switching from Shrimp to Crab Farming
The Myanmar aquaculture industry is likely to shift production from shrimp to soft-shell crabs in a effort to ease the impact of the global financial crisis. The shift counters recent claims by the government that the crisis has not had an effect on the fisheries sector.
Recent trade figures, however, point to a drop in export volumes and revenue for fish and shrimp and an increase for soft-shell crab.
The soft-shell crab farming industry looks very promising, while the farmed shrimp sector faces difficulties due to low prices on the world market.
Earlier this year, Myanmar converted the shrimp farming zone in Kyauk Tan township in Yangon to a soft-shell crab farming zone in order to boost the number of crab farms. The export of soft-shell crabs has yielded $3.27 million so far this year.
Disease Resistant Shrimp
New genetic technologies are being developed by Norwegian and Indian scientists to give tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon) better disease resistance.
“In four years...we aim to develop and implement advanced molecular methods into existing selective breeding programs. This will be a tool to improve the species’ disease resistance”, says project leader Nick Robinson of NOFIMA, the Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research.
The Indian and Norwegian scientists say that any benefits from their research will quickly flow to shrimp farms all over India.
Recent technology advances have greatly improved the potential to quickly find DNA markers for disease resistance and will allow more efficient application of the markers as selective breeding tools for improving disease resistance.
Whitespot syndrome virus (WSSV) is a major disease that has spread worldwide and devastated the aquaculture production of tiger shrimp. The decline in tiger shrimp production and the rise of white shrimp (P. vannamei) production is a result of the devastating impact of whitespot.
The Norwegian researchers will assist scientists at India’s Central Institute for Freshwater Aquaculture (CIFA) and Central Institute for Brackish Water Aquaculture (CIBA) to develop and implement the use of marker technology.
The Norwegian Research Council and the India Government’s Department of Biotechnology fund the project.
Mud Crab Hatchery Manual
In 2004, scientists from the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at the University of the Philippines in the Visayas Islands prepared A Guide to Hatchery and Nursery Production of Mud Crab (Scylla serrata) Juveniles (Romeo Fortes, Juliana Baylon, Evelyn Marasigan, Allan Failaman, Gerome Genodepaz, Sol Garibay and Gisela Ann Mamon).
Mud Crab Species: There are four kinds of mud crabs in the Philippines: the king crab (Scylla serrata), the purple crab (S. tranquebarica), the orange or red crab (S. olivacea), and the rare green mud crab (S. paramamosain). Among the mud crabs, the king crab is the most popular farmed species because of its fast growth and flavor. It has been called an “export winner” for its high demand in international markets.
Economics: Studies have shown that mud crab farming is a very lucrative business with a 1.54 return on investment in 60 days.
Broodstock: The major source of broodstock is wild-caught juveniles and half-grown crabs. The king crab is sexually mature when the width of its carapace reaches 14 cm and it weighs 450 grams.
Source: Bestaqua. Starting a mud crab hatchery. Junelyn S. de la Rosa. December 10, 2008.
Shrimp Shells Used to Extend the Shelf-Life of Papayas
Dr. Ilmi Hewajulige, a senior research officer in food technology at Sri Lanka’s Industrial Technology Institute, has invented a method to extend the storage life of papayas by using a substance from shrimp shells. Large portions of the papaya harvest get wasted every year because papayas ripen so quickly after harvest. Under the method invented by Dr. Hewajulige, a chemical known as chitosan, extracted from head and shell waste of shrimp, counters anti-fungal activity in Papaya enabling farmers to extend the storage life of papaya up to 14 days without any loss of flavor or quality.
Source: Daily News. Found: Prawn shells extend papaw storage life. Shirley Wijesinghe. November 25, 2008.
Florida—The Shrimp Market
Solomon Finvarb, president and CEO of Caribco, a shrimp farm and processing company in Colombia, South America, has retained Synergy Restaurant Consultants to develop and design the Shrimp Market restaurant chain in the USA, including the menu, recipes, operating systems and all training materials. Synergy will also help Finvarb develop the Shrimp Market brand and assist the company, which hopes to open 29 stores in 2009, in the development of a management team to operate the restaurants in multiple states.
The first Shrimp Market opened in the Adventura Mall in Miami, Florida, in the spring of 2007. The company currently has a total of four locations in Florida, Massachusetts and New Jersey. The current concept features cooked-to-order shrimp dishes that offer great value and flavor with a market style feel. The concept also offers a grab-and-go product line for those consumers who are looking for carry out or are in a hurry. A unique component of the concept is the merchandising of fresh cooked shrimp and the ability for guests to purchase shrimp by the pound.
Source: PRWeb. Shrimp Market Partners with Synergy Restaurant Consultants to Develop New Fast Food Concepts. December 9, 2008.
Hawaii—Symposium on Integrated Technologies for Advanced Shrimp Production
Program: A 3-day symposium on the current status of world shrimp farming technology with emphasis on biosecurity, health management, genetic improvement, and the environment.
When: October 13 through October 15, 2009.
Where: Ala Moana Hotel, 410 Atkinson Drive, Honolulu, Hawaii 96814 (phone 808-955-4811).
Registration Fee: $250 (by June 24, 2009), $300 (by August 12, 2009), and $350 (after August 12, 2009, and onsite).
Donald V. Lightner: The global status of significant infectious diseases of farmed shrimp.
Grace Chu-Fang Lo: Advances in diagnosis and prevention of whitespot disease using molecular technologies.
Arun K. Dhar: Genetics of disease resistance in shrimp.
Ana M. Ibarra: Genetics of shrimp reproduction.
Nigel Preston: Breeding Penaeus monodon and breeding Penaeus japonicus.
Jianhai Xiang: Breeding of Penaeus chinensis in China—A molecular biology approach.
Claude E. Boyd: Environmental management of shrimp farms in Asia to promote healthy shrimp and reduce negative impacts.
I. Chiu Liao: Shrimp aquaculture development in the Eastern and Western hemispheres.
Qingyin Wang: The culture of Penaeus vannamei in China: Developments and challenges.
Information: Dr. Cheng-Sheng Lee (phone 808-259-3168, email email@example.com).
Source: Email to Shrimp News International from Jillian Yasutake (firstname.lastname@example.org). Subject: You’re Invited to the Integrated Technologies for Advanced Shrimp Production. December 9, 2008.
Hawaii—Romy’s Shrimp Shack, a Blogger Reports
After doing some research and with a lot of help from Fodor’s Travel Guide, this blogger decided on visiting Romy’s Shrimp Shack, which serves farmed shrimp platters on Oahu’s North Shore:
Romy’s is one of the best, and it was a testament of how good they are that the line was rather long and consisted, not only of locals, but quite a few tourists, too. We went for the lunch plate of shrimp in butter and garlic sauce, a side of rice, and spicy shoyu sauce for dipping.
The shrimp are harvested daily from the shrimp farm on the other side of the shack. Meaning those suckers are fresh and tasty. They cook them as they are ordered, so everything is even more delicious, but depending on how many people are in front of you, it can also mean a wait. But it is totally worth it. Seriously, if you are going to Oahu, you have to visit the North Shore and have some of these shrimp.
Source: Monkeysblog.com. North Shore. Jenn. December 2, 2008.
Louisiana—Laitram’s School for Shrimp Cookers
Laitram Machinery will hold its 2009 Cooked Shrimp Processing Certification School on March 10–12, 2009, in Harahan, Louisiana. Cohosted by the University of Florida, the annual, three-day school explores the issues surrounding the cooking of large quantities of shrimp. There will be hands-on training and discussion on assuring FDA compliance while maintaining cooked shrimp yield and quality. The school aims to inform participants of the latest research and regulations and provide a forum for discussion. Laitram’s quality equipment and testing facilities provide an ideal setting for instruction.
Registration information: http://www.laitrammachinery.com.
Source: The Global Aquaculture Advocate. Editor, Darryl Jory (email@example.com). Industry News/Seafood Reps to Gather at Shrimp Processing Certification School. Volume 11, Issue 6, Page 83, November/December 2008.
South Carolina—Penaeus monodon Catches
A local trawler recently caught a half-pound Asian tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon), a nonnative species that gives the term “jumbo shrimp” a whole new meaning.
Photo: Al Stokes of the Waddell Mariculture Center took this photo of an Asian tiger shrimp held by Larry Toomer of the Bluffton Oyster Co. Toomer’s nephew, Kemp, was trawling five miles off Hilton Head Island when he caught the shrimp.
How they got here is a mystery to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. “It’s been hard for me to find out,” said DNR marine biologist David Knott. “As far as I know, no one in this country is cultivating them. There have been a number of tiger shrimp farms in the Caribbean. ...With all the storms down there, one possibility is that ponds have been breached and these things have gotten out.”
Knott also said there are nonindigenous tiger shrimp off the West Africa coast that somehow might have made their way to the southeast coast of the United States.
In 1988, tiger shrimp were being raised and studied at South Carolina’s Waddell Mariculture Center in Bluffton. Ponds there were stocked with about 50,000 tiger shrimp. One pond screen was not fitted properly and some of them escaped, said Waddell manager Al Stokes. About 1,000 adults were later recaptured in an area stretching from the waters off Beaufort County to Cape Canaveral, Florida, according to the USA Geological Survey’s nonindigenous aquatic species web site.
The tiger shrimp captured by Toomer’s nephew is not believed to be a descendant of the shrimp that escaped from Waddell 20 years ago. Stokes said that project’s goal was to determine if tiger shrimp could be farmed in South Carolina. Researchers found the animals didn’t grow well at high densities, so the facility switched to Pacific white shrimp (Penaeus vannamei), which is the only species raised in South Carolina today.
Washington DC—FDA’s “Hugely Ambitious Plan”
The New York Times reports: The Food and Drug Administration is claiming considerable progress over the past year in protecting the nation’s food supply from pathogens and toxic substances. But the steps described in its self-assessment warrant only a so-so grade.
The agency released a report during the first week of December 2008 describing what officials call a “hugely ambitious” campaign to redesign the whole approach to food inspection. The goal is to root out tainted food—whether produced abroad or in this country—at the earliest stages of the production and distribution process while being ready to respond quickly if pathogens start reaching consumers.
The philosophy is sound. Imported foods are the focus of greatest concern. And it makes good sense to detect and eliminate contamination at a manufacturing or distribution plant abroad rather than trying to intercept tainted products at our borders. It is encouraging that the agency has already hired staff for new offices in China and India that will try to ensure the safety of food products before they are exported. FDA also has plans to open offices in Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.
None of this is enough, however, to ease concerns over the safety of the food supply. FDA regulates some 65,000 food firms in this country. Inspecting 5,900 of them is only a modest beginning. While it is useful to have offices abroad, it is not yet clear how effectively they will be given some countries’ resistance to admit problems.
By most accounts, the FDA is still vastly underfinanced to carry out its widening responsibilities. The Obama administration and the next Congress will need to determine how much more money can be provided and what additional legislative authority is needed to trace contaminants through the food supply and recall tainted products.
FDA should also re-examine whether the Bush administration’s heavy reliance on the private sector to ensure safety needs to be rebalanced with more effective and vigilant regulation.
Source: The New York Times. Editorial: Grading Progress on Food Safety. December 6, 2008.
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