Aquaculture for all

China Pledges To Improve Seafood Quality

CHINA - China will step up inspections on the use of antibiotics in fish farms - including chemicals that can cause cancer - after contaminants caused trading partners to block its seafood exports.

"We are focusing on getting a hold on antibiotic use, especially overuse of antibiotics on fish and crustaceans, including nitrofurans and malachite green," Zhang Yuxiang, director of the market and economic information department of the Ministry of Agriculture, told a news conference.

Last month the ministry said that malachite green, a cancer-causing chemical used by fish farmers to kill parasites, had been found in some food samples, as well as nitrofurans, an antibiotic also linked to cancer.

China is the largest producer of farmed fish, handling 50 per cent of the total value of global aquaculture seafood exports around the world. Its top export market for seafood is Japan, and it is also the third-largest exporter of seafood to the United States.

Last month, the US Food and Drug Administration said a sampling of imported Chinese seafood from October 2006 through May 2007 found more than 15 per cent of shipments were contaminated with antimicrobial agents that are not approved for use in farm-raised seafood in the United States.

In 2005, exports of Chinese-farmed eels to Hong Kong were found to contain malachite green.

China is under mounting pressure from abroad over food and product safety scandals, particularly since tainted pet food was sent to the United States and toothpaste was found to contain an industrial solvent.

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