- Title: USA/CHINA: U.S. tightens import controls on Chinese seafood
- Date: 30th June 2007
- Summary: BEIJING, CHINA (JUNE 12, 2007) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WORKING IN A LABORATORY
- Embargoed: 15th July 2007 13:00
- Topics: International Relations,Industry
- Reuters ID: LVADU16PVLN4C1UOZRO7MQKNA5S0
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: U.S. says that certain types of Chinese seafood will not be allowed into the country until proven that they are free from harmful chemicals.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Thursday (June 28) it would not allow imports of certain Chinese seafood until suppliers could prove shipments were free from harmful chemical residues.
Catfish, basa, shrimp, dace and eel will not be allowed into the United States from China until the importer can show products meet U.S. requirements and safety standards.
The substances found in the imported seafood included nitrofuran, malachite green and fluoroquinolone, which the FDA said when used in food animals may increase antibiotic resistance to this critically important class of antibiotics.
None of these substances is approved for use in farm-raised seafood in the United States, and the use of nitrofurans and malachite green in aquaculture is also prohibited by Chinese authorities. Chinese officials have acknowledged that fluoroquinolones are used in Chinese aquaculture and are permitted for use in China, the FDA said.
U.S. officials have uncovered a series of unsafe products imported from China.
Consumer advocates say the US needs to do more to prevent bad food from making it to store shelves.
"There's a few things the U.S. government needs to do. One, we need to step up inspections. We only test about one to two percent of imported foods to begin with. We understand that the FDA upped that to about 5% in this case of the Chinese seafood. But it's simply not enough to really catch all of the problems that seem to be coming into this country," said Urvashi Rangan, senior scientist, of Consumer Reports.
Earlier this year, melamine, a chemical used in plastics and fertilizer, surfaced in U.S. pet food, killing animals and prompting wide recalls. Dangerous chemicals have also been found in toothpaste, toy trains, and bad tires.
Rangan feels that the Chinese have policies in place but are lax at implementing them. According to her, they need to step up their efforts as well.
"Two of the chemicals that were detected on this banned seafood are actually banned in China as well. So that seems to indicate that China seems to be having its own manufacturing problems and its own oversight issues with that," she said.
China called for reason, urging trading partners to accept its products. Regulators shut down 152,000 food manufacturers last year for making fake or low-quality products.
The U.S. FDA said there was no immediate threat to the public because the seafood contained low levels of the substances, but serious health problems could emerge if the products were consumed over long periods.
But Rangan recommends that consumers stay away from Chinese seafood altogether.
"Our advice to consumers is get it out of the house if you have it in there. Don't buy it at the supermarkets and don't buy it at your restaurants," she said.
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