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NOAA Fisheries has formally rolled out a web-based screening tool that can flag potentially mislabelled finfish fillets before they hit the seafood aisle. Developed by the National Seafood Inspection Laboratory (NSIL), the Species Substitution & Protein Pattern Matching Tool could help the seafood industry address finfish substitution and fraud. To help maintain the nation’s safe, sustainable supply of seafood, researchers at NSIL developed a lab method and online screening tool that lab technicians can employ to compare finfish muscle proteins against NSIL’s Authenticated Finfish Species Library.

The tool quickly generates a list of species matches ranked from most to least likely-positioning it as a perfect precursor and complement to DNA testing programs. Wholesale and other buyers typically send their fillet samples to third-party labs for DNA analysis when they suspect species substitution. By first screening their samples for common substitutions with the Species Substitution & Protein Pattern Matching Tool, however, these buyers can save time and money, reserving DNA testing for instances when a probable mislabelling needs to be verified.

The US Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory labs currently using DNA testing could also fold NSIL’s tool into their procedures to screen a larger quantity of finfish fillets for common substitutions. The Species Substitution & Protein Pattern Matching Tool is one of many services and resources provided by NSIL. From their offices in Pascagoula, Mississippi, the NSIL team works cooperatively with federal and state agencies, international governments and organizations, and private industry to ensure the safety of seafood for US consumers.

To explore the tool, visit

On 31 December 2018, NOAA Fisheries along with Customs and Border Protection officials started an informed compliance period for shrimp importers participating in the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP). SIMP requires importers keep chain of custody data for products entering the United States. It also requires the shipments to come with harvest and landing data to ensure the products are properly labeled.

SIMP began on 1 January 2018, with such products as Atlantic cod, red snapper, swordfish, and tunas requiring the documentation. Despite being the top imported seafood product, shrimp, at that time, was excluded because similar recordkeeping requirements had not been put in place for US shrimpers and producers. A group of 11 US senators pushed to add shrimp into the program last year by including the provision in the Commerce appropriations bill, that President Trump signed into law as part of an omnibus spending package last March.

Source: INFOFISH Trade News, ITN 2/2019

The US government issued its long-awaited final rule on genetically engineered foods, which could pave the way for legal sales of genetically altered salmon. The United States Department of Agriculture’s final rule requires food manufacturers, importers, and other entities that label foods for retail sale to disclose information about bioengineered (BE) food and BE food ingredients. “This rule is intended to provide a mandatory uniform national standard for disclosure of information to consumers about the BE status of foods,” the agency said in the final rule.

The new USDA rule became effective on 21st February - 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. Food processors do not have to comply with the new rule immediately, however. The voluntary compliance date ends on 31 December 2021, and the rule becomes mandatory on 1 January 2022.

More information on this rule can be found here:

Source: INFOFISH Trade News, ITN 1/2019

Washington State University’s School of Food Science’s Center for Advanced Food Technology has announced the launch of an online Certificate of Proficiency in Seafood Science as from April 2019. The Certificate of Proficiency in Seafood Science provides six courses, each providing its own certificate of completion, that are designed to provide the basics related to seafood science, production, processing, safety, and marketing. This includes all marine, freshwater organisms, whether they are sourced from wild fisheries or aquaculture, and is not limited to finfish. It is designed for individuals that may not have a formal education in food science or seafood but work in the seafood/fisheries/aquaculture sectors.

More information is available from WSU Center for Advanced Food Technology, and email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Tuesday, 31 July 2018 02:33

USA: Marine Mammal Protection Act

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The US Marine Mammal Protection Act came into force on January 1st 2017, and will require countries exporting fisheries products to the USA to introduce provisions to reduce marine mammal bycatch in their fisheries. The requirement is to establish regulatory programmes for marine mammal conservation that are comparable in effectiveness to the US programme. This may include assessing marine mammal stocks, estimating bycatch, and mitigating that bycatch to levels comparable with US regulatory programs in an analogous domestic fishery.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries has established a 5-year exemption period in order to allow other countries who export fish and fishery products to the USA the time necessary to develop appropriate systems and present the “comparability findings” which will be required for imports from 1st January 2022.

NOAA Fisheries will notify the nations with commercial fishing operations that export fish or fish products to the United States and request that within 90 days of notification that the nations submit information about the commercial fishing operations identified. After the conclusion of the one-time five-year exemption period, any new Country or fishery that has not previously exported to the United States, and that wishes to commence exports, will be granted a provisional comparability finding for a period not to exceed twelve months. After that period, they will be required to have the necessary programmes in place or they will not be permitted to export their products to the USA. Some Countries, notably the UK and Canada, have already made representation to NOAA to clarify their position with regard to aquaculture products and are awaiting an official response.

Source: NOAA Fisheries and Chris Leftwich, IAFI Board Member

Tuesday, 21 March 2017 03:55

USA: Fish Oil can Help Prevent Lupus

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Taking fish oil supplements could help prevent lupus and other autoimmune diseases. Researchers at Michigan State University fed female mice genetically disposed to lupus with the omega-3 fatty acid, Docosa Hexaenoic Acid (DHA) In the study, DHA was found to block the activation of the disease lupus, triggered by crystalline silica- a toxic mineral also known as quartz, Lupus is a genetic disease that can be triggered by inhaling crystalline silica and by other environmental factors such as sun exposure.

Source: Pain News


NOAA Fisheries released the final rule establishing the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP). The Program establishes, for imports of certain seafood products, the reporting and recordkeeping requirements needed to prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU)-caught and/or misrepresented seafood from entering U.S. commerce, thereby providing additional protections to US national economy, global food security and the sustainability of shared ocean resources. This is the first-phase of a risk-based traceability program, requiring the importer of record to provide and report key data—from the point of harvest to the point of entry into U.S. commerce—on an initial list of imported fish and fish products identified as particularly vulnerable to IUU fishing and/or seafood fraud.

Source: NOAA


FDA has issued its final guidance on its Voluntary Qualified Importer Program. Under the program, importers with a proven history of safety and security will enjoy expedited review by the FDA upon the importation of food products to the US. The program requires eligible importers to pay a fee and meet a number of criteria, including the implementation of a Quality Assurance Program and facility certification.

Source: US FDA

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