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China To Tighten Control Of Antibiotics In Seafood

BEIJING - 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 on Wednesday.

The ministry said last month 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 percent of the total value of global aquacultured 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 U.S. Food and Drug Administration said a sampling of imported Chinese seafood from October 2006 through May 2007 found more than 15 percent 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.

Source: Reuters