Do you want to eat fish from China?
Posted by scapozzola on 11/25/2008
The U.S. imports million of pounds of fish each year. Unfortunately, as the volume of imported seafood has steadily increased between 2003 and 2006, the number of samples taken for laboratory testing by the Food and Drug Administration decreased by 25 percent. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is simply swamped by these massive fish imports. According to a new report by Food and Water Watch, “less than one in a million pounds of seafood imported into the United States are tested in laboratories for Salmonella, Listeria, chemical and drug residues, metals, and pesticides.” Apparently, the FDA’s field laboratory resources and staffing are simply inadequate for the vast amount of food that needs to be checked. A prime example is that, unfortunately, the FDA waited several years to issue a ban on fish from China in 2007 after finding “very high failure rates for illegal veterinary drugs and chemicals on the imports for several years – including violations much higher than the FDA admitted in 2007.” Food and Water Watch notes that one of the solutions proposed by the FDA to monitor imports is “using private laboratories hired by exporters to certify which exporters and products are safe.” Needless to say, the self-interest of exporters like China calls in to question the reliability of such a plan. Some key findings of the report: * Imported seafood shipments grew by 15 percent between 2003 and 2006, and the volume grew by 11 percent to 5.4 billion pounds. During this same period, the number of imported fish samples taken for laboratory analysis fell by 25 percent. * The number of laboratory tests the FDA performed declined by 27 percent from 9,552 laboratory tests in 2003 to 6,995 tests in 2006. * Between 2003 and 2006, about one in 11 (8.7 percent) of FDA laboratory tests on imported seafood turned up unacceptably high levels of disease, decomposition or adulteration. To read all recommendations and key findings from the new report, entitled 'Laboratory Error,' click here.
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