Something called the U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission last week held a hearing on “Chinese Seafood: Safety and Trade Issues.”
The big talker was Don Kraemer from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. He is deputy director in the Office of Food Safety.
Kraemer went into some extensive detail on the legal authority FDA maintains over Chinese imports to the United States; and all the policies and procedures it employs.
With doctors telling us all to eat fish twice a day, Kraemer started to get our attention with statements like this: “More than 80 percent of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported from approximately 130 countries, and over 40 percent of that seafood comes from aquaculture operations.”
And about China specifically, this:
"By volume, China is the largest exporter of seafood to the U.S., and the second largest in terms of monetary value. In particular, China exports significant amounts of shrimp and catfish products, which represent two of the ten most consumed seafood products in the U.S.
As the aquaculture industry continues to grow, concern about the use of unapproved drugs and unsafe chemicals in aquaculture operations has increased significantly. There is clear scientific evidence that the use of unapproved antibiotics and other drugs and chemicals, such as malachite green, nitrofurans, fluoroquinolones, and gentian violet, can result in the presence of residues in the edible portions of aquacultured seafood.
Fluoroquinolones are not approved for use in food fish and have been prohibited from extra-label use in the U.S. and many other parts of the world because of public health concern about the development of antimicrobial resistance. Moreover, prolonged exposure to nitrofurans, malachite green, and gentian violet, or their metabolites, has been shown to induce cancer in humans or animals.
Since June 28,2007, there’s been a detention order on all farm-raised catfish, basa, shrimp, dace and eel from China. This means the Chinese farm fish are subject to detention FDA without examination.
Since imposition of the countrywide Import Alert, FDA has detained 2,964 shipments of aquacultured seafood from China, and through laboratory testing, 1,387 of those shipments have been released into U.S. commerce.
Only one company, Zhanjiang Guolian Aquatic Products Corporation, Zhanjiang, China (Guolian), has taken the steps needed to get out from under the detention order.
The Review Commission is a 12-member panel created by Congress to monitor trade with China.
For Kraemer’s complete statement, go here.