Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Banned Chemicals in Fish!

Banned chemicals found in tons of imported fish found for sale in the U.S.
Fish from overseas that are contaminated with chemicals not allowed in the U.S. food supply are showing up for sale in this country, including in Tennessee. Three American fish importers pleaded guilty earlier this year in Mobile, Ala., to federal felony charges of mislabeling fish and seafood. Their illegal haul included more than 120,000 pounds of imported fish, brought in to Mobile and Seattle, that tested positive for the suspected human carcinogen malachite green, an antifungal agent, and for an antibiotic that U.S. authorities also prohibit for use on fish that people consume.

Over the past 12 months, officials in Tennessee, one of the few states doing testing, found evidence of a prohibited substance. Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas and Florida also turned up the same in recent years while screening imported fish. How much tainted fish might end up on plates in restaurants or homes is unknown, but one Alabama official says it’s coming into the country despite a U.S. Food and Drug Administration effort to block such shipments. “I can tell you right off the bat that 40 percent of the imported fish we test is positive for banned drugs that are not safe for human health,” said Brett Hall, deputy commissioner for the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report in April saying improved FDA oversight is needed of imported seafood, with recommendations to better leverage limited funding.

Antibiotics Found
Over the past year, Georgia and Arkansas found evidence of fluoroquinolones, a banned family of antibiotics, in imported fish. Arkansas detected crystal violet, a carcinogen. In February, fluoroquinolones residue was discovered in imported fish in Tennessee. Out of 17 imported basa — a mild-tasting Asian catfish — and other catfish samples analyzed, one was positive for the illegal antibiotics over the past year, according to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. That was using the FDA’s tolerance standard of 5 parts per million. No imported shrimp samples have shown a problem. “We began testing imported fish about five years ago due to growing consumer concerns,” said Casey Mahoney, a department spokeswoman.

After the one positive sample among 78 lots since testing began in July 2006, the distributor was notified and a recall was initiated. Delivery drivers were told to collect any basa fish remaining and deliver them back to the distributor’s warehouse, where the product was destroyed. The product was originally distributed to food service establishments. Tennessee does quarterly sampling and testing at wholesale and retail establishments. Alabama started such testing earlier and has now dropped it because of funding shortages. From 2002 to 2009, Alabama records show, 44 percent of basa fish it sampled from Asia were positive for fluoroquinolones, prompting the state to issue nine “suspensions from sale or movement orders” to take the fish off the market.
The United States today imports almost 85 percent of its seafood, and about half of it is from aquaculture, which frequently uses antibiotics to control disease. Most of the seafood comes from China, Thailand, Canada, Indonesia, Vietnam and Ecuador.

Article from:
www.fairwarning.org and Anne Paine The Tennessean

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