With more than 80 percent of seafood sold in America coming from many foreign sources — most of it processed and frozen — the federal government is expressing concern over the safety of that imported seafood.Drug-tainted imported seafood may be entering the country, says a new report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Seafood from domestic fishermen, by contrast, is mostly fresh and subjected to strict federal and state testing guidelines.
The issue lies with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, says the report. The agency’s seafood-sampling program is being called “limited” and “effective,” because it doesn’t test for antibiotics and other drugs sometimes used in aquaculture, and because it only inspects foreign exporters and importers annually.
FDA inspectors don’t usually visit the farms to see firsthand whether antibiotics or other drugs are being used — nor do they visit the laboratories that are supposed to analyze the seafood, reports SeafoodSource.com.
Not only that, but the FDA tested only about 0.1 percent of all imported seafood for drug residues in fiscal 2009.
While the FDA responded that the recently passed Food Safety Modernization Act will improve the agency’s ability to monitor imported seafood safety, the GAO concluded its report by recommending that the FDA consider adopting new practices to bolster its sampling program and guarantee the safety of imported seafood for Americans.
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