F.D.A. to detain farm-raised Chinese seafood imports

by FoodBusinessNews.net Staff
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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is beginning a border import control of all farm-raised catfish, basa, shrimp, dace and eel from China.

The F.D.A. will detain these products until the shipments are trusted to be free from residues of drugs not approved in the United States for use in farm-raised aquatic animals.

"We’re taking this strong step because of current and continuing evidence that certain Chinese aquaculture products imported into the United States contain illegal substances that are not permitted in seafood sold in the United States," said Dr. David Acheson, assistant commissioner for food protection. "We will accept entries of these products from Chinese firms that demonstrate compliance with our requirements and safety standards."

There have been no illnesses reported, but during sampling from October 2006 to May 2007, F.D.A. officials found farm-raised seafood imports from China were repeatedly contaminated with antimicrobial agents that are not approved for such use in the United States.

The substances found were antimicrobials nitrofuran, malachite green, gentian violet and fluoroquinolone. These substances are not approved for use in the United States, and such use of nitrofurans and malachite green is also prohibited in China.

The levels of the drug residues were very low, and the F.D.A. is not recalling products already in U.S. commerce and is not advising consumers to destroy or return imported farm-raised seafood. The F.D.A.’s concern stems from long-term exposure and the development of antibiotic resistance.

The F.D.A. may allow such imports to enter the United States if the company supplies documentation confirming the products do not contain the drug residues.

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