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4. Recommend that PHS investigate the possibility of using PHS lists of
State certified shippers to inform Industry of National meetings and
Another similar problem is related to the conduct of the National Shellfish Sanitation Workshops. In general, it has been our experience that any changes in the Cooperative Program standards are best made through application of "law of the situation" rather than compromise or majority rule. In effect, each of the major participants is thereby given a veto power.
We could adopt a more formal approach for future meetings, but this would raise many questions as to "pights" of the various program participants and of the "authorityon of the State and industry representatives to commit their agencies to a course of action. Rule of the situation seems to avoid these problems as long as all parties concerned will show a reasonable degree of cooperation. Questions necessarily arise as to the type and number of industry representatives, particularly from those few States in which the primary trade associations (the Oyster Institute of North America and its affiliated associations) are poorly represented. These problems have been discussed in varying degrees with the States and industry in the series meetings which proceeded this workshop. While there is general agreement that these are problems, there have been few concrete suggestions for improvements except for the recommendations from one of the industry meetings that an advisory Committee, comparable to the committee which established the program in 1925, be established to guide the Surgeon General in program administration. Consequently, we propose no immediate change in our method for conducting this Workshop, but we will expect to have formal proposals which can be submitted to the States at the next series of regional meetings. PHS central office staff will be prepared to interpret and explain our proposals at that time.
We feel that it would be helpful if a decision could be reached on a uniform name for our shellfish sanitation activity. Informally, we have used the title "Cooperative State-PHS-Industry Program for the Certification of Interstate Shellfish Shippers." This title, although descriptive, is a nu i sance in any written material. Consequently, the program's name is frequently abbreviated, incorrectly, to "Shellfish Certification Program" or "Cooperative Program for the Certification of Interstate Shellfish Shippers." More recently, we have tended to use the name "National Shellfish Sanitation Program feeling that the advantages of brevity outweigh those of a completely descriptive name. Again, we would like to have the views of the Workshop on this proposal.
PUBLICATION OF PLANT SANITATION RATINGS
A proposal has been made that the semi-monthly list of State certified shippers carry the most recent plant sanitation ratings. Proponents of this idea, largely industry, believe this would focus attention on the poorer plants and that resultant economic pressures would promote uniformity within the industry. This suggestion apparently reflects their feelings that plant inspection programs are not uniform and that some plants are substandard. While we acknowledge that variations do exist between States and Regions, we do not believe they are significant. Thus, we question if the gains from this suggestion would be adequate compensation for the many additional inspections or for the large amount of paper work needed for continual revisions of the shippers list. Instead, we feel that our efforts should be directed toward better standardization of inspection procedures both within the Public Health Service and the States. We also believe there would be some severe disadvantages in publication of shipper ratings. Buyers might conclude that a plant rating difference of one or two
points would be significant whereas this is not the case. We cannot recommend that the Workshop endorse the proposal that plant sanitation ratings be published, but we feel that we are obligated to bring the proposal before the workshop.
FINANCING STATE PROGRAMS
We have been greatly concerned with the financial problems which we have observed in the States' shellfish sanitation programs and believe that this is probably our greatest single problem. Information which our regional consultants have been able to obtain from the State agencies, and which reflects their knowledge of program needs, suggests an increase of almost two million dollars a year in State expenditures in necessary if the States are to meet current responsibilities. It is most probable that these technical problems will continue to increase and even greater financial support will be necessary in the years ahead to keep even with the problem. The State programs are, of course, the real foundation of this National program. If they cannot all be maintained, then the entire structure is endangered.
These problems are typical of those which might be encountered in any situation in which a resource of fixed size is subjected to increased pressures. There are only a limited number of acres of coastline! As pressures increase for multiple use of these areas, the State agencies are faced with ever increasing problems of making effective evaluations of areas and of policing these areas of unsatisfactory quality. While depuration, and perhaps other parallel devices, may provide some relief we do not feel that substantial economies can be effected and that adequate financial support must be obtained for the State programs.
The shellfish industry and the Conference of State Sanitary Engineers have both recognized this problem and have endorsed the concept of Federal legislation which would provide supplemental funds for these activities. The Association of State and Territorial Health Officers at their annual meeting two years ago also raised the questions of use of Federal grant funds. We have no specific progress to report in this area nor do we have any suggestions, but are convinced that this is a most significant administrative problem which must be in some way resolved. This is perhaps an area in which advice of the senior level advisory Committee would be most helpful.
On several occasions in recent years we have been faced with situations not covered by the manual, but required a decision on a course of action; e.g., should the Ciguateralike toxins of the Gulf Coast be treated in the same administrative manner as paralytic shellfish poison. It has been our practice to consult with one of the senior members of the Conference of State Sanitary Engineers, usually the Chairman of their Shellfish Committee, and with the Executive Secretary of the Oyster Institute of North America prior to making any decisions in such situations. (internal PHS and other Federal agency clearances are, of course, obtained as required.) This procedure has worked reasonably well from our standpoint and will be continued unless the workshop has other specific suggestions. This is an area in which the Executive Committee, functioning within the broad framework of a senior advisory committee, could be very helpful.
THE STATE PLAN
The current system for evaluation and endorsement of State shellfish programs by the Public Health Service is essentially retrospective. Under the existing program the Service makes annual reviews on a continuing basis. If it is found that a state program is ineffective, steps are taken to terminate endorsement of the State's efforts. Such an approach, which places emphasis on cure rather than prevention, is diametrically opposed to most public health thinking. Thus, we feel that another evolutionary change should be initiated in the National Shellfish Sanitation Program--prior PHS evaluation of the "State Plan" as a prerequisite for State participation in the National program.
Specifically, each State would be expected to submit to the Public Health Service their plan, for the next fiscal period, for carrying out their responsibilities under the National program. If a critical review of this plan by Public Health Service staff
disclosed that the plan was such that the State would be unlikely to be able to carry on a satisfactory program, the Service would advise the State. The state would then have three courses of action: (1) a technical appeal based on the State's contention that the plan would, in fact, be effective; (2) assignment of additional resources or technical re-structuring to make the plan effective in terms of the cooperative program goals (1.e., a 70% compliance rating as outlined in Part 111 of our operating manual); or (3) non-participation in the program.
We feel very strongly that this positive approach, as contrasted with the retrospective study, would strengthen the program and improve the consumer protection confidence factors, would minimize friction between the State agencies, the industry and the Public Health Service, and would be an effective method for focusing attention on State agency budget and staffing problems.
To explore the pitfalls in this proposal PHS proposes development of a tentative protocol for the review of State plans, trial use with one or two of the interested States, discussions at the several State meetings, and, finally, open discussion at the next Shellfish Sanitation Workshop.
THE CONSUMERS INTEREST
In recent years there has been a growing awareness of the responsibility of government in protecting the Interest of the consumer. I think we all realize that in our present complex society this is necessary as the consumer is no longer able to obtain the knowledge needed to enable him to act in his own behalf. This concept is just as valid in our shellfish sanitation activities as with other foods, drugs or other consumer products. In general, the consumer expects that the official agencies will do whatever is necessary to assure that the product as it reaches him will be safe, wholesome and properly labeled and identified.
We in the shellfish sanitation program have, for almost 40 years, identified the consumer and his interests as the motivating force behind our efforts. The shellfish industry is also constantly aware of the presence--or at unfortunate times the absence-of the consumer. Despite our acknowledged interest in the "consumer" we have never really sought his advice in the planning or carrying out of the National program. This may not be entirely true at the State levels although I am not personally acquainted with any of the State programs in which consumer groups have specific representation. Perhaps it is now time that we investigate how we can enlist the support--and obtain the advice and council--of some of these groups who have a specific interest in this product.
Unless the workshop has strong views to the contrary we in the PHS intend to consult with the Inter-Council Subcommittee on Food Protection and if necessary the President's Committee on Consumer Interests to determine if such a course of action is feasible. Some of the States might also wish to consider a similar course of action at the State level.
There are, I am certain, other administrative and management decisions with which we should be concerned. However, we feel that the foregoing represent the more apparent problems. If we can decide on suitable courses of action on these, I feel that substantial progress will have been made in strengthening our National Shellfish Sanitation Program and that we shall be better prepared and equipped to meet future problems.
PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE REPORT TO JOINT COMMITTEE ON MARINE FOOD SANITATION
PROGRAM FOR SCALLOPS AND CRABMEAT
Leroy S. Houser
Public Health Service
(The assistance of Mr. Mario Boschetti, Sanitary
At the 1962 meeting of the Conference of State Sanitary Engineers, the Joint Committee on Marine Food Sanitation requested the Public Health Service to evaluate the need for cooperative certification programs for scallops and crabmeat. in conformance with this request, the Shellfish Sanitation Branch asked each of our Regional Offices to contact the coastal States, investigate and discuss their present sanitation programs on scallops and crabmeat, and seek the views of the State as to whether they felt a National certification program for these products was needed or warranted.
In April 1963, in discussing the progress made in gathering the necessary information with Mr. Mario Boschetti, it was discovered that "shrimp" was included in Charge No. 3, along with scallops and crabmeat, of the Charges which Mr. Boschetti had available. It should be noted that "shrimp" is not included in the Charges on page 57 of the published 1962 "Report of the Joint Committee on Marine Food Sanitation of the Conference of State Sanitary Engineers." Nevertheless, the Shellfish Sanitation Branch attempted, through a questionnaire mai led out by Mr. Boschetti, to obtain source information on shrimp for the deliberations of the Joint Committee on Marine Food Sanitation at its 1963 meeting. However, many of the States in replying to Mr. Boschetti's questionnaire indicated they had previously discussed the matter with Public Health Service consultants; consequently, little information was provided on the specific subject of "shrimp." A letter from Mr. John E. Trygg to Mr. Boschetti, dated May 31, 1963, indicated that it was his belief that it was not intended that "Ishrimp'' be included, but that he could see no reason why such information as was obtained might be included as a matter of interest to the consuming, as well as the producing States. Since the only information obtained on ''shrimp" is that Alaska, Alabama, California, Flordia, Massachusetts, Mississippi and North Carolina are the largest producing States and that each has either specific laws and regulations or control the product through their general food and drug laws, no adequate writeup could be prepared. However, the information on scallops and crabmeat is somewhat more detailed and it is believed the Committee can reach a decision on these two products.
Limited information was obtained from 24 coastal States as to whether they had any crabmeat industry, the type of sanitation programs currently being operated, and whether there was need for a National crabmeat sanitation program. The States from whom information was solicited by our Regional Offices are listed on the following page:
Of the 24 States submitting limited information, 8 had no crabmeat plants and no specific sanitary laws and regulations relative to crabmeat. It is assumed they controlled imports through their general food laws. Five States had plants, but no specific law or regulation applicable to crabmeat. These were California, Oregon, Maine, South Carolina and Texas, all of whom were providing sanitary supervision through their general sanitary food laws. This leaves 11 States with specific laws and/or regulations covering the sanitary control of crab picking plants, all of which have crabmeat processing establishments. These 11 States are Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington. There are approximately 268 crabmeat plants in the U.S., with 60 being located in Alaska.
Only Florida, Maryland, and Virginia, had specific bacteriological standards for crabmeat. As a matter of interest these standards are reproduced below:
B. Total bacteria count. The standard
plate count shall not exceed 25,000 bacteria per gram of pasteurized crabmeat.