|

Fishy imports: More oversight needed for seafood safety

Consumer Reports News: May 24, 2011 10:34 AM

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has just released a report recommending improvements to government oversight of imported fish.

Some 80 percent of the fish and seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported. About half of that is farmed fish, which may contain disease-causing bacteria, residues of antibiotics and other drugs and chemicals. A number of these chemicals pose cancer and other health risks.

The FDA is responsible for ensuring that seafood is safe to eat and does not contain traces of these dangerous drugs. But FDA seldom inspects foreign fish processors: in 2010 it inspected only 5 of the 801 fish processing facilities in Vietnam that export to the US. FDA likewise only inspects 0.1 percent of the fish coming in at the border. The FDA’s sampling program may also miss certain drugs and chemicals not approved for use in aquaculture in the U.S. because it doesn’t know to test for them.

The European Union conducts much more stringent reviews: analyzing foreign government structures, food safety legislation, fish farm inspection programs and conducting site visits of the farms to ensure that the imported fish is being processed with seafood safety programs equivalent to the EU’s.

The FDA should really step up to the plate in China, for example, which provides some 25 percent of the fish imported into the US. Only 1.5 percent of Chinese seafood processing plants have been inspected there in the last 6 years.

Desiree Ferenczi

   

E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters! Choose from cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Latest From Consumer Reports

BIKE HELMET GUIDE
Cannondale Teramo bike helmet fails CR safety test Video The chinstrap buckle broke, so the helmet is a Don’t Buy: Safety Risk.
BATTERY REVIEWS
Don't forget the batteries for your holiday giftsVideo Find out which brands performed the best in our latest tests.
MICROWAVE OVEN REVIEWS
Wolfgang Puck Pressure Oven put to a taste test Not every recipe was a winner in this celebrity chef's speedy oven.
SMART PHONE REVIEWS
Great gadgets: Top 5 smart phones of 2014Video These state-of-the-art devices do more things right, more often.
NEW CAR REVIEWS
Exclusive report: Best—and worst—new-car valuesVideo Our scores reveal which cars deliver the biggest bang for your buck.
PAPER TOWEL REVIEWS
Best everyday cleaning products for big eventsVideo Find the top detergents and paper products from our tough tests.

Connect

and safety with
subscribers and fans

Follow us on:

Cars

Cars New Car Price Report
Find out what the dealers don't want you to know! Get dealer pricing information on a new car with the New Car Price Report.

Order Your Report

Mobile

Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more