Entries in Seafood (3)


GAO: Could Drug-Tainted Fish Be Slipping Through the Safety Net?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. government is doing far less than other countries to keep drug-tainted fish off dinner tables.
A congressional investigation finds the U.S. Food and Drug Administration samples a tiny fraction -- just 0.1 percent -- of all seafood imports for drug residues. Inspectors visit few importers, even fewer overseas seafood processors and none of the farms. The Government Accountability Office report, written in April but just released Monday, paints the FDA’s approach to seafood safety as outdated and oversimplistic.
Americans are eating more fish and most of it -- 84 percent -- is imported from 130 countries. Half of that imported fish is raised on farms. Those crowded pens can be rough places for fish to survive. To keep them alive, farmers feed the fish antibiotics and other drugs that can remain in the meat when it shows up on your plate -- and that can lead to antibiotic resistance.
Nearly a quarter of all the fish imported to the U.S. comes from China, a country that allows fish farms to use the antibiotic tetracycline. Vietnam, the largest source of imports for farmed catfish and the third-largest source for farmed shrimp, allows use of the antibiotic neomycin. But the FDA conducts no test for either drug.
“In 2007, Japan detected excessive levels of tetracycline residues in the shrimp products it imported from China and in 2010, the EU detected excessive levels of neomycin in imported catfish from Vietnam. Because FDA does not include tetracycline and neomycin in its sampling program, it has no assurance that seafood containing these drug residues has not entered the United States," said the report.
In total, Vietnam allows the use of 38 drugs, most of which are not approved for use in the United States, in fish farms.
The United States has approved just five drugs for use in fish. But countries that send seafood to the United States use dozens of other unapproved drugs. When the FDA does look for drugs, it has a target list of 16.
“Canada tests its imported seafood products for more than 40 different drugs, select EU member countries test for 50 drugs, and Japan tests for 57.”
And the FDA has fallen short in looking for the drugs that are on the target list. The United State bans treating fish with nitrofurans, another type of antibiotic, because prolonged exposure may cause cancer. But the GAO found the FDA collecting too few samples.
When the agency does inspect fish, it can take weeks (average of three weeks) to get a result. But one sample took more than five months to come back from the lab.
The GAO also determined FDA inspectors spend much more time looking at paperwork than at fish.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


BP Oil Spill: Worries About Seafood, Water Remain One Year Later

ABC News(EMPIRE, La.) -- One year after a deadly explosion triggered a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, concerns still remain about the safety of the water and the seafood being fished from it.

On April 20, 2010, BP's Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, killing 11 people and sending 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf.

The spewing oil wrecked havoc on the marine life, killing and soiling hundreds of birds, stranding dolphins and turtles, and putting a halt to the fishing industry in the area.

Many of the fishermen who were out in the oil-ridden waters still worry today that their produce -- shrimp, oysters and crabs -- are not yet safe to eat.

"I ain't worried about the money.  I'm worried about the people's health," said Rudy Camardelle, a fisherman in Lafitte, Louisiana.  "They can't be sending these boats out out there and catching these shrimp, selling these shrimp to these people.  And these shrimp might be 'taminated or something."

The fear of contaminated seafood is also having still having an effect on local businesses.

Theo Bourgeois, a charter boat captain in Lafitte, says his bookings are down 60 percent because of worries the fish are contaminated.

"The problem is a lot of my business out of state, people from up north.  And they're not interested in coming down, man.  They really feel it's still contaminated with pollutants and stuff.  And it's gonna be hard to convince them that's not so," Bourgeois said.

Yet, others agree with government officials who have deemed seafood from the Gulf safe to eat.

"I'm gonna tell everyone it was great," said Christy Ball, a visitor from St. Louis who ate a crab po' boy at a restaurant in Lafitte on Tuesday.  "I know there's a fear about it.  We've heard it.  And I don't believe it all.  And I think you have to be open minded about it.  You have to read up on what's going on.  And I think we all feel pretty good about it."

Although BP, the U.S. Coast Guard and other federal agencies say the Gulf is oil-free as far as they can tell, several Louisiana officials and wildlife officials disagree.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Military Tries to Dispel Fears About Gulf Seafood

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- It's been almost ten months since the BP oil spill and consumers remain skittish about eating seafood caught in the Gulf of Mexico.

In an effort to help Americans get over their fears, the Pentagon is promoting various Gulf products at 72 base commissaries along the East Coast.  Currently, the Defense Commissary Agency, or DeCa, sells to military personnel, reservists, retirees and their families.

The Gulf products now sold by DeCa include fish, shrimp, oysters, crab cakes, jambalaya and shrimp etouffee.

Industries operating in the Gulf region are grateful for the government assistance, given the amount of trepidation felt by consumers after the largest accidental oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry.

While extensive testing has shown that Gulf seafood is safe to eat, many American still believe it's toxic due to the oil emitted from the deepwater well and the chemicals used to clean up the spill.

Sales have dropped off sharply since the April 20 explosion on an offshore rig that led to the spill, with a recent survey finding that 70 percent of people are still nervous about eating Gulf seafood.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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