Fed Budget Cuts Imperil Seafood Import Safety
The FDA is responsible for ensuring the safety of imported seafood, which now accounts for as much as 90 percent of seafood Americans eat. At present, the FDA inspects about 2 percent of imported seafood and only tests about two-tenths on one percent for banned and dangerous drugs and chemical additives. This means that 98 percent of imported seafood receives no inspection at all for safety or labeling fraud.
According to federal budget authorities, the Food and Drug Administration faces $318 million in cuts and U.S. Customs and Border Protection will be sliced by $712 million. Customs and border enforcement is to be cut an additional $453 million.
Slashed food import and port safety programs could lead to more uninspected, unregulated and potentially dangerous foreign seafood entering America's food chain. At the same time, America's catfish farmers -- who comprise our nation's largest aquaculture industry -- are already struggling against an increasing flood of ever-cheaper and often-tainted imported Asian catfish and catfish-like pangasius (basa, tra and swai).
It has never been more important for Americans to ask restaurants where their catfish comes from. Consumers should also look at the country of origin labels required for seafood sold in supermarkets. If it is not safe, healthful U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish, simply say "no, thank you."