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FDA Curbs Sale of Five Seafoods Farmed in China

US - In the latest move against Chinese imports, the Food and Drug Administration yesterday effectively blocked the sale of five types of farm-raised seafood from China because of repeated instances of contamination from unapproved animal drugs and food additives.

The F.D.A. said it decided to take the action after years of warnings and even a visit to Chinese fish ponds that resulted in no signs of improvement. But Dr. David Acheson, the F.D.A.’s assistant commissioner for food protection, stressed that the seafood posed no immediate health threat, though long-term consumption could result in health problems.

“There’s been a continued pattern of violation with no signs of abatement,” Dr. Acheson said.

The seafood announcement comes after a string of reports in recent months about Chinese imports that have failed to meet American health and safety standards: pet food ingredients, toothpaste, toy trains and tires.

The seafood move, however, may have the broadest impact on China, the world’s biggest producer of farm-raised fish. The country is also the biggest foreign supplier of seafood to the United States, accounting for 22 percent of the total imports.

The seafood named in the F.D.A.’s “import alert” are shrimp; catfish; eel; basa, which are similar to catfish; and dace, similar to carp. Some of the contaminants cited have been found to cause cancer in laboratory animals, while others may increase antibiotic resistance. Under the import alert, the seafood can be sold in the United States only if importers provide independent testing that shows the seafood does not contain the contaminants.

Officials at the Chinese Embassy in Washington did not respond to messages seeking comment.

The announcement fueled concerns about both the integrity of Chinese products and the effectiveness of the American system for identifying contaminated food.

“The list continues to grow of Chinese imports that are dangerous to American consumers,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois. “There reaches a point where I think it’s clear, if China wants to live in the 21st century, then they have to produce to those standards.”

Source: The New York Times