FDA testing fewer seafood imports

As seafood imports climb, the percentage of shipments receiving laboratory test inspections has fallen over the past four years, from 0.88 percent in 2003 to 0.59 percent in 2006.

This was among the findings of a new Food & Water Watch report showing how the Food and Drug Administration's failure to adequately inspect imports could contribute to foodborne illnesses or other health problems among United States seafood consumers.

Inadequate funding and a mediocre inspection program contributed to FDA physically inspecting less than 2 percent of the 860,000 imported seafood shipments in 2006. The report's analysis of FDA border refusals of imported seafood shipments from 2003 to 2006 revealed some troubling trends:

  • More than 70 percent of refused imports were processed seafood products, exempt from country of origin labeling requirements the US Department of Agriculture oversees.

  • More than 20 percent of all import refusals were due to Salmonella. Of those, more than 40 percent were shrimp.

  • The government is refusing more seafood because of veterinary drug residues. More than 60 percent of the refused imports in 2006 were from China.

The report is available at www.foodandwaterwatch.org/press/publications/reports/import-alert.

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