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GAO Study Links Duty Circumvention with Evasion of Food Safety Laws
Date:3/24/2009

TARPON SPRINGS, Fla., March 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A report released this week by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) includes a formal acknowledgement from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other enforcement agencies that companies willing to illegally mislabel shrimp products to avoid paying antidumping duties are also evading U.S. food safety efforts. The Southern Shrimp Alliance (SSA), which repeatedly has voiced concern over the unaddressed problem of illegal shrimp imports and its impact on food safety, welcomed the study.

"Unethical companies are not just avoiding payment of hundreds of millions of dollars owed on unfairly traded shrimp when they mislabel or transship products. They are also directly undermining the food safety protections intended to prevent unsafe shrimp from being sold to U.S. consumers," explains John Williams, executive director of the Southern Shrimp Alliance. "A solid food safety program requires U.S. government agencies to cooperate and close the door on all illegal schemes that disguise the origins of America's favorite seafood. This GAO report is a good first step in that direction."

Since June 2007, Chinese shrimp have been subject to a food safety "Import Alert" issued by FDA and antidumping orders issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce. However, by transshipping or improperly labeling products, Chinese shrimp have been able to enter the United States despite the Alert while companies are simultaneously avoiding payment of antidumping duties. In September 2007, multiple shipments of suspected Chinese shrimp illegally transshipped through Malaysia tested positive for the presence of illegal, cancer-causing drugs, according to the GAO.

The report states, "Incidents like these and others have led FDA officials, including a senior official in FDA's Office of Food Safety, to reconsider the agency's limited level of effort regarding economic fr
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SOURCE Southern Shrimp Alliance
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