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Testing of seafood imported into the US is inadequate
Date:11/9/2011

Finfish, shrimp, and seafood products are some of the most widely traded foods and about 85 percent of seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported. A new study by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future at the Bloomberg School of Public Health shows that testing of imported seafood by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is inadequate for confirming its safety or identifying risks. The findings, published this month in Environmental Science and Technology, highlight deficiencies in inspection programs for imported seafood across four of the world's largest importing bodies and show which types of aquatic animals, and from which countries, are most often failing inspection. The study identified a lack of inspection in the U.S. compared to its peers: only 2 percent of all seafood imported into the U.S. is tested for contamination, while the European Union, Japan and Canada inspect as much as 50 percent, 18 percent, and 15 percent of certain imported seafood products. When testing in the U.S. does occur, residues of drugs used in aquaculture, or "fish farms," are sometimes found; above certain concentrations, these drugs are harmful to humans.

David Love, PhD, lead author of the study, and colleagues at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, acquired data on seafood inspection programs from governmental websites and from direct queries to governmental bodies. They analyzed the number of violations of drug residue standards as a function of species of aquatic animal, exporting country, drug type, import volume and concentration of residue.

Their findings indicate there is an insufficient body of data for evaluating the health risks associated with drug residues in U.S. seafood imports. "Data made accessible to the public by the FDA precludes estimation of exposures to veterinary drugs incurred by the U.S. population," said Keeve Nachman, PhD, a study co-author. Researchers encountered a lack of transparency in U
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Contact: Tim Parsons
tmparson@jhsph.edu
410-955-7619
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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