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COVERING IMPORTED FOOD SAFETY FOCUS: SEAFOOD. IMPORTED SEAFOOD TRENDS IMPORTS HAVE INCREASED DRAMATICALLY, ESPECIALLY FISH AND SHELLFISH FROM ASIA: (In.

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Presentation on theme: "COVERING IMPORTED FOOD SAFETY FOCUS: SEAFOOD. IMPORTED SEAFOOD TRENDS IMPORTS HAVE INCREASED DRAMATICALLY, ESPECIALLY FISH AND SHELLFISH FROM ASIA: (In."— Presentation transcript:

1 COVERING IMPORTED FOOD SAFETY FOCUS: SEAFOOD

2 IMPORTED SEAFOOD TRENDS IMPORTS HAVE INCREASED DRAMATICALLY, ESPECIALLY FISH AND SHELLFISH FROM ASIA: (In Thousands of Dollars – U.S. Census) COUNTRY China: 1,146,291 1,240,939 1,445,933 1,927,574 2, 013,977 Vietnam: 732, , , , ,386 Indonesia: 428, , , , ,067 Thailand: 1,428,792 1,360,553 1,524,510 1,809,890 1,797,821

3 Expanded Coverage in 2007 Spring: Melamine contamination in pet food increases public, Congressional and media interest in imported food safety. Spring, Summer: Congressional hearings focus on food contamination, seafood imports. June 2007: FDA import alert on imported Chinese shrimp, catfish, basa, eel and dace. FDA cites presence of banned antibiotics. FDA did not take action against countries with a history of similar practices, such as Vietnam.

4 STORIES ON BAD SEAFOOD NEXIS STORY COUNT FOR SEAFOOD AND FDA (through April 3)

5 Reporting Goals Reporters want to answer basic questions for readers: How could this happen? Will it hurt me, my family? Why didn’t the government catch this? What’s the fix? How much $$$$?

6 Reporting Goals, cont. Reporters also want to find out : What went wrong? Who was responsible? Why did the failure occur? Are regulators too close to the industry?

7 A FAST LEARNING CURVE/REPORTING RESOURCES: DETAILED IMPORT DATA – Not public under FDA rules. OASIS: FDA does publicize details of rejected shipments on its OASIS website. This offers an incomplete glimpse of the contamination problem with imported food.

8 IMPORT ALERTS -- FDA Import Alerts warn importers and consumers of banned products. PIERS -- PIERS import data service provides detailed information on imported goods, shipping dates, ports, transport methods and estimated values. $$$$

9 CONGRESSIONAL TESTIMONY/HEARINGS – The work of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, its oversight and investigations subcommittee and the House Agriculture Committee have pried loose information, testimony and sources for reporters.

10 Federal Personnel: Inspectors and other employees talking with reporters about the lack of resources and problems. Invaluable. State Agencies – Often more aggressive on food safety than federal government, especially catfish states (Miss., Ala.).

11 European Union – Actual inspections in exporting countries – detailed reports. Embassies – Trade personnel. Foreign Correspondents -- looking to speak with manufacturers, exporters.

12 USDA – Food Safety and Inspection Service, the Agriculture Marketing Service, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection. World Health Organization

13 INDUSTRY ASSOCIATIONS/WATCHDOGS: American Wild Shrimp and Southern Shrimp Alliance, Catfish Institute, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, R-CALF, American Meat Institute, etc. INTEREST GROUPS: Food and Water Watch, Consumers Union, Center for Food Safety, Organic Consumers Assoc., Center for Science in the Public Interest, etc. ADMINISTRATION: Interagency Working group on Import Safety. Suggested changes.

14 INDUSTRY CLAIMS U.S. Shrimp groups claim questionable imports in U.S. rose when EU banned Asian shrimp imports.

15 SHRIMP IMPORTS: CHINA (Source: Southern Shrimp Alliance)

16 REPORTING RESULTS 2007 (Story count on FDA AND SEAFOOD) Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec

17 Reporting Results June 2007 – Import Alerts on five types of Chinese seafood. Alert follows an FDA investigation that began in October Pending Legislation -- Mandatory recall authority and a single food safety agency. September FDA reverses plan to close seven of 13 labs after Congressional objections and news stories.

18 CHICAGO TRIBUNE As FDA gets tough on China seafood, it fails to hold others to same standard Date: Sunday, September 16, 2007 Edition: Chicagoland Final Page: 1 Dateline: WASHINGTON Source: By Stephen J. Hedges, Washington Bureau The Food and Drug Administration responded to jitters over Chinese imports recently by banning some of that country's seafood due to contaminants, but the agency has failed to apply the same standard to seafood supplied from other large exporters that use the same chemicals and fish-farming techniques. Imports from Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia, for instance, have continued apace, despite the fact that fish-farming techniques in those Asian countries are similar to those cited by the FDA when it issued an import alert in June targeting Chinese fish."This is not just a China problem," said Bradford Ward, a Washington attorney who represents the Southern Shrimp Alliance, a group of U.S. shrimp producers. "Why are other countries trading a lot, going ahead with shrimp imports and not attracting FDA attention?"

19 CHICAGO TRIBUNE Big holes frustrate food import safety net China trade reveals gaps in FDA system Date: Sunday, May 20, 2007 Edition: Chicagoland Final Page: 1 Dateline: WASHINGTON Source: By Stephen J. Hedges, Washington Bureau As federal regulators scrambled last month to contain a pet food contamination outbreak, officials in some Southern states had a different concern: Noticing that catfish imports from China had skyrocketed, they began testing the imported fish. What they found surprised them -- two banned antibiotics.The discovery pointed to a deep flaw in the nation's food safety system, as the Chinese catfish had already entered the U.S. legally and were on their way to grocery stores and restaurants. "We continue to find it in the food shipments coming into Alabama," said Ron Sparks, Alabama's agriculture commissioner. "And if it's coming into Alabama, it's coming in everywhere else." The discovery enabled Alabama and Mississippi to put "stop sale" orders on the catfish, tying up more than 700,000 pounds of fish in Alabama alone. But without these last-minute tests, the fish would have been eaten by any number of consumers, despite the presence of the banned antibiotics.

20 CHICAGO TRIBUNE Seafood ban latest threat to China's reputation in U.S. Date: Sunday, July 1, 2007 Edition: Chicagoland Final Page: 1 Dateline: TAOYU, China Source: By Evan Osnos and David Greising, Tribune correspondents. Evan Osnos reported from Taoyu, China, and David Greising reported from Beijing. Tribune correspondent Stephen J. Hedges contributed to this report from Washington. This tiny village near the Great Wall is crowded with 20 household trout farms, which have cropped up in less than a decade to join China's booming seafood trade. Yet, in a tale mirrored across the industry, the local water supply could not keep pace and fish began dying from contamination, said fish farmer Liu Yanyan. She turned to traditional Chinese medicine to save her trout, she said, while some neighbors resorted to antibiotics and other chemicals.In trying to protect their business, China's fish farmers may have fueled a far larger problem: China's seafood industry, the world's largest source of farmed fish, is the latest casualty in a wave of scrutiny that threatens to undermine the nation's reputation as the superstore to the world. The case highlights a vulnerability in China's economy: the government's challenge to keep pace with growth to ensure that exporters meet health and safety standards in markets around the globe.

21 CHICAGO TRIBUNE How imports swamp FDA Thin line of defense against tainted food Date: Sunday, September 2, 2007 Edition: Chicagoland Final Page: 1 Dateline: ALAMEDA, Calif. Source: By Stephen J. Hedges, Tribune national correspondent When the 65 steel drums crossed from the Canadian border in late April, the accompanying documents said they contained honey from Canada, according to U.S. government officials. Since most food products from Canada are considered safe, the honey normally would have sailed through U.S. customs. But U.S. inspectors noticed something odd.The green steel drums were marked as containing apple concentrate from China, one official said. When Food and Drug Administration investigators examined the honey inside, they found chips of green paint -- most likely from the drums themselves -- floating at the bottom of some drums. And laboratory tests of the honey revealed the presence of ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic banned in the production of food in the U.S. but often used in the making of honey in China. The probe of the honey, still open after more than four months, demonstrates the difficulties U.S. port inspectors face when it comes to policing imports, even on products that have drawn years of extra scrutiny. It's unclear who the importer is in the case. The Chinese steel drums and the antibiotic led U.S. officials to believe that the honey shipment was actually from China, not Canada, said the official, who declined to be named. If so, it would not be the first time that the FDA has raised doubts over Chinese honey imports.

22 "It's just another sign to us that we have this huge number of imports and no way to get a handle on it," said an FDA chemist.


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