China Seafood

Old 06-30-2007, 07:59 AM
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Default China Seafood

FDA Detains Imports of Farm-Raised Chinese Seafood
Products Have Repeatedly Contained Potentially Harmful Residues

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced a broader import control of all farm-raised catfish, basa, shrimp, dace (related to carp), and eel from China. FDA will start to detain these products at the border until the shipments are proven to be free of residues from drugs that are not approved in the United States for use in farm-raised aquatic animals.

This action by FDA, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will protect American consumers from unsafe residues that have been detected in these products. There have been no reports of illnesses to date.

"We're taking this strong step because of current and continuing evidence that certain Chinese aquaculture products imported into the United States contain illegal substances that are not permitted in seafood sold in the United States," said Dr. David Acheson, FDA's assistant commissioner for food protection. "We will accept entries of these products from Chinese firms that demonstrate compliance with our requirements and safety standards."

During targeted sampling from October 2006 through May 2007, FDA repeatedly found that farm-raised seafood imported from China were contaminated with antimicrobial agents that are not approved for this use in the United States.

The contaminants were the antimicrobials nitrofuran, malachite green, gentian violet, and fluoroquinolone. Nitrofuran, malachite green, and gentian violet have been shown to be carcinogenic with long-term exposure in lab animals. The use of fluoroquinolones in food animals may increase antibiotic resistance to this critically important class of antibiotics.

None of these substances is approved for use in farm-raised seafood in the United States, and the use of nitrofurans and malachite green in aquaculture is also prohibited by Chinese authorities. Chinese officials have acknowledged that fluoroquinolones are used in Chinese aquaculture and are permitted for use in China.

The levels of the drug residues that have been found in seafood are very low, most often at or near the minimum level of detection. FDA is not seeking recall of products already in U.S. commerce and is not advising consumers to destroy or return imported farm-raised seafood they may already have in their homes. FDA is concerned about long term exposure as well as the possible development of antibiotic resistance.

The FDA action includes conditions under which an exporter can be exempted from FDA's detention action by providing specified information to the agency. This information must demonstrate the exporter has implemented steps to ensure its products do not contain these substances and that preventive controls are in place. The additional import controls placed on seafood from China will last as long as needed.

FDA may allow the entry into the United States and subsequent distribution into the marketplace of individual shipments of the Chinese farm-raised seafood products if the company provides documentation to confirm the products are free of residues of these drugs.

China calls for reason as food safety fears mount

Fri Jun 29, 2007 10:32AM EDT

BEIJING (Reuters) - Under pressure after a U.S. move against Chinese seafood and a huge recall of Chinese toothpaste in Japan, Beijing urged trade partners on Friday to accept its products unless they violate contract terms or local regulations.

China also announced the appointment of a new health minister, a Paris-trained scientist and only the second non-Party member to be named to a ministerial post since the 1970s, but gave no reason for the change.

Intense global scrutiny of the safety of Chinese exports has been spurred by the discovery of contaminated food, dangerous chemicals in pet food and medicines and lead paint on toys.

At home, China has announced crackdowns on fake medicines and unsafe food. Earlier this year, the head of the food and drug watchdog agency was sentenced to death for corruption.

"In principle, if you don't find (any problem), Chinese goods should be allowed to be exported," said Wang Xinpei, a ministry spokesman in Beijing.

"Businessmen have already signed contracts based on mutual trust. They must have included terms of quality and usage in their contracts. Only if the shipments violated these terms or the importing country's quarantine rules should they be stopped. Otherwise, they should be accepted."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Thursday it would not allow imports of Chinese farm-raised seafood unless suppliers could prove the shipments contained no harmful residue.

China is the largest producer of farmed fish, handling 50 percent of the total value of global aquaculture seafood exports around the world. It is also the third-largest exporter of seafood to the United States.

The U.S. ambassador also met with the head of China's quarantine administration to press for a reopening of China's markets to American beef imports, suspended since 2003 due to an outbreak of mad cow disease.


U.S. regulators have been meeting with China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine at least since May over catfish, after the states of Alabama and Mississippi -- both major producers -- banned imports of the fish, citing high levels of fluoroquinolones, an antibiotic.

Inspectors have continued to find residues of veterinary drugs and food additives not permitted for use in the United States in farmed fish products, an FDA official said.

The FDA said there was no immediate threat to public safety because of the low levels of the substances in farmed catfish, shrimp and other seafood, but health problems could develop if the items were consumed over long periods of time.

The Ministry of Commerce spokesman said China applied international standards and quarantine procedures to food exports.

He had no immediate comment on whether the ministry was addressing the latest concerns from the United States.

In a separate case, nine Japanese companies are recalling Chinese-made toothpaste found to contain diethylene glycol, an industrial solvent, at concentrations as high as 8.5 percent.

Millions of small tubes of the toothpaste were packaged with a toothbrush and sold to hotels throughout the country, a Japanese Health Ministry official said on Friday. One firm alone is seeking to recall three million tubes.

Regulators in Hong Kong, Singapore, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and the United States have warned of toothpaste contaminated with diethylene glycol. The substance was responsible for at least 100 deaths in Panama after it was mixed into cough syrup.

China has launched a crackdown on unsafe food and medicines. The Beijing News said on Friday the latest steps included seeking feedback from citizens about a new regulation banning toxic nitrates in restaurants, and fining food makers up to 500,000 yuan ($66,000) for problematic products.

Beijing has also banned 10 types of medicine, charging producers wilfully exaggerated their effects on high blood pressure, diabetes and skin problems and seriously misled consumers, the paper reported.

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