A two- member team of the European Union Commission visited a seafood processing plant inVisakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, recently to check out the quality standards maintained by it. The Food and Veterinary Office in Europe organised the inspection.
The Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) is responsible for ensuring the implementation and enforcement of European Community legislation on food safety, animal health, plant health and animal welfare.
It also promotes effective control systems in the food safety and quality, veterinary and plant health sectors; checks on compliance with the requirements of EU food safety and quality, veterinary and plant health legislation within the European Union and in third countries exporting to the EU and contributes to the development of EU policy in the food safety and quality, veterinary and plant health sectors.
A European Union team visits Andhra Pradesh every two years to check the quality standards at licensed processing plants. Out of the 56 marine processing plants in the state, 32 have got EU quality standard licenses.
"As you know, only the approved fish processing units can export to the European Union, and the European Union has laid down certain standards. And, they come and see whether these standards are being maintained.
That's why the inspection is done," said G Mohan Kumar, the Chairman of the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA).
If any of these licensed firms are found wanting on the quality standard front, the FVO cancels the license and might even impose ban on seafood exports .
The EU team also visited fishing harbours in the area to inspect boats used for fishing, storage facilities for fresh water in the vessels, the condition of freezer boxes and the hygiene of fishermen.
The export of seafood from Andhra Pradesh to the EU has gone up following the US Government's decision to impose anti- dumping duties on seafood from India.
The export of seafood is estimated at Rupees 746 crore in 2003-04,Rupees 1,028 crore in 2004-05 and Rupees 1,115 crore in 2005-06. In the first seven months of 2006, the export of seafood is estimated at Rupees 820 crore.