Seafood alert

Seafood lovers might want to think twice before biting into that shrimp, tilapia or catfish. China, the world’s leading seafood supplier, has come under serious scrutiny by the FDA for exporting several types of farm-raised fish and shellfish that have been found to contain significant amounts of carcinogens and contamination.

How do you know if your seafood is from China? Well, you may not. According to the FDA, no current law or regulation requires that fish offered for sale to U.S. consumers be labeled regarding the products’ country of origin. “However, FDA believes that consumers need not be concerned about whether or not the seafood they purchase is from China, because the agency’s import alert will prohibit the entry into U.S. commerce of violative seafood products from China.

Officially, the Food and Drug Administration has issued an “alert”, though not an outright ban, on farm-raised catfish, basa, shrimp, dace and eel from China. Any shipments of the seafood will have to be proven to be free of drugs and residues not approved in the US.

“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, FDA’s assistant commissioner for food protection. This includes, according to the FDA, unapproved veterinary drugs. “We will accept entries of these products from Chinese firms that demonstrate compliance with our requirements and safety standards.”

Though there have been no reports of illnesses from these imported seafoods, the FDA has concerns that continued long-term exposure could be dangerous.

Here are some statistics you may want to consider:

– 90% of the total US supply of shrimp is imported, 11.5% is from China
– 99% of the total US imports of catfish is from China
– 100% of US supply of basa is imported, 8% of the total US imports of basa is from China

Read more at the FDA FAQ site.