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Testimony to Congress Denounces FDA Reliance on Self-Policing

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 seafood."

"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 Williams.

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


Deborah Long


SOURCE Southern Shrimp Alliance
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