There is no current food safety program developed for the prawn farming industry and no training programs available for employees. This initiative answers this vacuum and will set the prawn industry at the forefront of meeting new food safety legislation and to enable growers to meet current requirements by supermarkets and other sectors. The flow-on noted in other industries is that costly mistakes reduced and profitability rises because of the change in culture.Continued setbacks with regulators frustrate the issue of licences and development approvals. Industry adoption and implementation of ‘hands on’ environmental management, coupled with industry promotion, is expected to ease regulatory and development inhibition about sustainability of the industry.
Prior to the commencement of this project approximately eighteen months ago there was no food safety program developed for the Australian prawn farming industry. Nor was there was a quality program. There were no training modules available for the industry in relation to food safety or food quality. Also lacking were any relevant models for EMS in the Australian prawn farming industry. There was a need for these gaps to be addressed. APFA, Seafood Services Australia and Fisheries R&D Corporation jointly funded this initiative to fill those gaps.
This project has established the Australian prawn farming industry at the forefront of meeting new food safety legislation and is the first example of industry-wide application of the Australian Seafood Standard. All participating producers now also meet the requirements of major retailers and supermarkets. The Association has received very positive feedback from food safety regulators including Safe Food Queensland, Safe Food NSW and Food Standards Australia New Zealand. The Association has been advised that Safe Food Qld is considering using the APFA Safe Food and QA Program as the model code for application in other sectors of the industry.
The project has facilitated a change in the culture of the industry and increased producers’ awareness of the competitive advantages which can arise from addressing food safety and quality issues. Recent reports from participating members validate an increase in profitability through better returns for their produce.
Keywords: Prawn farms, quality assurance, EMS certification, safe food production