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US inspects Chinese farmed seafood, Vietnam worried

by the Fish Site Editor
03 July 2007, at 1:00am

VIET NAM - The news that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will detain all farmed seafood products sourced from China for examination before granting customs clearance is worrying Vietnamese enterprises.

Seafood processing companies plan to meet early this week to discuss the possible impacts of the FDA’s decision on Vietnam’s seafood exports to the US and solutions to the problem.

As FDA has announced, all consignments of farmed seafood sourced from China, including shrimp, catfish, eel, red-eyed carp, will be strictly examined. The imports will be detained at border gates for examination to find out if there are residues of prohibited substances not allowed to be used in aquaculture in the US.

Explaining its decision, FDA said that it had abundant evidence showing that Chinese farmed seafood products contained prohibited substances. David Acheson, Assistant Commissioner for Food Protection at FDA, said that the agency would only allow the admittance of imports that could meet the food hygiene requirements set by the US.

According to Fis.com, the Deputy Director of International Marketing Specialists, which specialises in providing shrimp and seafood products, has accused the FDA of acting late in preventing unsafe products from entering the US market. He said that his company had been facing the problem of unsafe seafood for the last 3-4 years. It is very likely that China has been doing this for many years, and it now does the same thing with many kinds of food. The fact that China has ordered the closure of several thousand food processing establishments confirms this.

International Marketing Specialists do not import shrimp from China any more.

7% of shrimp and 10% of catfish consumed in the US are sourced from China.

From October 2006 to May 2007, FDA routinely discovered farmed seafood products sourced from China containing prohibited antibiotics, including nitrofuran, malachite green, dye, and fluoroquinolone.

Mr Acheson said that the strict control over Chinese imports would last until FDA found it unnecessary any longer to keep control. He said that exporters must provide information to show that they had done everything to ensure products were safe.

The move by FDA has worried Vietnamese seafood processors as Vietnam is among the big seafood exporters to the US. The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) plans to gather its members on July 3 in HCM City.

At the meeting, members will discuss issues that may affect seafood exports, including the shrimp anti-dumping lawsuit, the problems with the Japanese market relating to anti-biotic residues, the inspection by Russian authorities of farming and processing establishments, and the inspection by the USFDA of Chinese products. The US now is the 4th biggest export market for Vietnam, consuming nearly 20% of Vietnam’s seafood exports. Shrimp, tra and basa are the main items exported to the market.

Further Reading

Shrimpers Say Worries About Chinese Shrimp May Help Industry

the Fish Site Editor