Shrimp face key test as EU safety team’s visit nears    

Frozen food exporters will face a key test early next year when a European Union team visits the country to check whether shrimp being destined to the block meets safety requirement.

Exporters and officials have termed the visit by the European Union Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) in April 20-30 a ‘critical test’ for the shrimp industry, saying the team is coming after three years and it would determine the course of the nation’s third largest export earners.

MDG : Bangladesh Shrimp industry“Our future largely depends on the mission’s progress card,” Md Khalilullah, vice president of Bangladesh Frozen Food Exporters Association (BFFEA) told the FE Tuesday.

The EU is the largest importer of Bangladesh shrimps, accounting for nearly 60-70 per cent of the total frozen food shipments, he said.

The country exported US$638.19 million worth of frozen food in fiscal 2013-14 while shrimp export fetched $550.16 million.

Shrimp farming is a key employer in the country’s poverty-stricken southwestern coastal region. According to the industry, the country’s 130 shrimp processing plants and tens of thousands of farms employ over one million people.

The delegation is expected to take stock of the present situation of residue control in live animals and animal products and the control mechanism for veterinary medicinal products –measures seen as key requirements for export of shrimps to EU, officials said.

The team will also inspect implementation of public health and residue control requirement in aquaculture products from root level to production level so that health-hazard agents or drugs cannot enter the shrimps’ bodies meant for export, they added.

Anisur Rahman, joint secretary of Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, said “We are yet to get the details of their scheduled visit.”

Terming the visit important for the country’s frozen food industry, he said, “The team visited the sector in 2011. Now they will come to monitor the present scenario, especially the developments since then.”

He said his ministry will hold a meeting on December 08 with all relevant stakeholders to review the situation prior to the EU team’s visit.