Testimony to Congress Denounces FDA Reliance on Self-Policing

Feb 26, 2008, 00:00 ET from Southern Shrimp Alliance

    TARPON SPRINGS, Fla., Feb. 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- John Williams,
 a shrimp fisherman and executive director of the Southern Shrimp Alliance,
 testified today before the House Subcommittee on Oversight and
 Investigations of the Commerce and Energy Committee regarding import
 seafood safety. Williams criticized the Food and Drug Administration's
 (FDA) reliance on importers to verify food safety and recommended Congress
 take legislative actions.
     "On behalf of the U.S. shrimp industry, I would like to thank
 Representative Charles Melancon for inviting us to share our experiences
 with Congress," said Williams. "We appreciate his continued support for
 equal application of food safety requirements on imported and domestic
     "The FDA has failed to enforce food safety laws on imported seafood.
 The FDA's approach to imported food safety is to accept unverified
 representations from importers with only token inspections," explained
     Concerns about the FDA's inability to assure the safety of imported
 seafood have caused at least eight states to conduct their own testing
 programs. Repeatedly, these states have found banned substances in the
 imports they test-seafood allowed by the FDA and the private sector to
 enter the U.S. market.
     Since 2002, the state of Louisiana has had an Emergency Rule in place
 to test imported shrimp and crawfish for chloramphenicol. It added testing
 for fluoroquinolones in Chinese and Vietnamese seafood in 2007.
     The impact of FDA's failures
     The FDA's failure to prevent the importation of contaminated shrimp has
 a number of negative effects on the U.S. market, the U.S. shrimp industry
 and U.S. consumers that benefit from a diet of healthful seafood. First and
 foremost, farmed-shrimp imports contaminated with banned antibiotics,
 pesticides and other dangerous contaminants put the health of U.S.
 consumers at serious risk according to sound medical science that is
 recognized and applied worldwide.
     Second, U.S. consumers are quite often unable to distinguish between
 safe and unsafe shrimp in retail markets and restaurants. Their fear of
 buying or being served contaminated imported shrimp depresses the overall
 consumption and demand for all shrimp, including healthful, wild-caught
 shrimp produced in the United States.
     Finally, the FDA's lax inspection system allows volumes of low-value
 contaminated shrimp into the U.S. market. These illegal shipments depress
 the price for U.S. shrimp fishermen.
     SSA is an alliance of the U.S. wild-caught shrimp fishery from eight
 states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama,
 Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. For more information, please visit
Contact: Deborah Long Deborah@CohesiveCommunications.com 785.539.5218

SOURCE Southern Shrimp Alliance