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NAA Conducts Brief Survey at CAFÉ Conference

NAA Conducts Brief Survey at CAFÉ Conference

The Center for Advancement of Foodservice Education (CAFÉ) Leadership Conference provided the opportunity for the National Aquaculture Association (NAA) staff to meet face to face with culinary faculty from across the United States. To make this into a more effective learning experience, the NAA conducted a brief survey designed to identify knowledge gaps and provide science-based answers to common questions about U.S. aquaculture. A similar survey will be conducted during the American Culinary Federation Convention in August. Culinary school faculty is a particularly important target audience because these instructors reach hundreds of students each year and those students will become the chefs, restaurateurs, and foodservice professionals who will buy farm-raised seafood in the future.

 The survey provided some insights into the current state of knowledge. Forty percent of the respondents were aware of the USDA recommendation for two seafood meals per week. However, 12% felt that there was no specific recommendation. Eighty-eight percent felt that aquaculture was more sustainable in terms of land and water use than terrestrial animal production. This question was a direct lift from the Report of the Scientific Committee for the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. That report provides a strong message in favor of aquaculture, especially production of higher trophic level species such as salmon and trout.
When asked what percent of the seafood consumed in the United States is farmed or fished domestically, 53% of the sample felt 60 or 70%. No one guessed 10% which is the correct answer. This is an important concept because it emphasizes the pressing need to develop U.S. aquaculture. On the question of added hormones, antibiotics, and genetic engineering to promote growth, 48% believed that these practices are used in U.S. food fish aquaculture.

The final question dealt with the importance of consuming seafood on a regular basis during pregnancy to improve the overall health of the developing fetus. This, along with coronary heart health benefits, was a critical issue in the development of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Twenty-four percent of the respondents felt that the statement was not true. This is an especially important consideration since college aged females are one of the primary target audiences for this information. There still seems to be a great deal of confusion about the accurate interpretation of the mercury advisory.

Although it was positive to see that so many culinary instructors felt that aquaculture was sustainable, there is still much work that needs to be done on educating culinary professionals about the health attributes of U.S. farm-raised seafood. The NAA provided copies of publications that address these issues, an answer sheet to the survey questions, and NAA contact information as a future reference for instructors and culinary professionals. 


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