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Australia Importing Toxins From The Deep

AUSTRALIA - Australians are eating imported fish that have not been tested for harmful toxins, consumer advocate Choice warns.

Authorities test only 5 per cent of fish arriving from abroad.

In a report released today, Choice calls for Australians to have similar protection as in the US, where national regulator the Food and Drug Administration tests all shipments of certain farmed fish species from China, reports Sydney Morning Herald. It says the US repeatedly finds banned chemicals, including fungicides and antibiotics, in imported fish.

"Fish found by our authorities to be contaminated are rejected, however 95 per cent of imports are not routinely tested nor is domestically produced seafood," Choice spokesman Christopher Zinn told Sydney Morning Herald. "We feel Australians deserve better."

Food Standards Australia New Zealand found 16 per cent of domestically farmed fish and 17 per cent of imported farmed fish contain the fungicide malachite green, a chemical used in a farming to prevent disease and parasites.

According to Sydney Morning Herald, large fish such as swordfish, marlin and shark can contain mercury at levels that harm small children and pregnant women, not to mention being harvested unsustainably, the report found.

Mr Zinn said consumers were getting mixed messages, being told by government and health authorities to eat more fish because of its health benefits.

Yet aside from the health risks, about two-thirds of fish species are overfished by Australian fisheries, a report by the Australian Government Bureau of Rural Sciences found.