Imported Seafood Can Be Dangerous, U.S. Government Cracks Down - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


Imported Seafood Can Be Dangerous, U.S. Government Cracks Down

Seafood -- it's in our restaurants and in our grocery stores. But the overwhelming majority of the seafood we eat is imported, which has raised some concerns.  

"The consumer doesn't have a good handle on what's safe," said Dr. Larry Lowry, environmental health professor at the University Health Center in Tyler.

Lowry also said you can't read the product label and fully understand what is in the food.  

Less than one percent of the seafood coming into the U.S. is inspected by the FDA.  That's a small number considering 80 percent of the seafood here in America is imported.  Several FDA inspections have found some imported seafood to contain some potentially dangerous materials.  

Certain fungicides and antibiotics, used to stop bacteria from growing and parasites from spreading in over-crowded,fish farms, have been detected in imported fish.  Many of those chemicals have been banned from foods in the U.S. because they've have been shown to cause cancer and birth defects.  

Lab tests detect those chemicals routinely, and some said not enough is being done to protect American consumers.  

"In toxicology, it's the dose that makes the poison," Lowry said.  "So how much is safe, and how much is not safe, we don't really have a good knowledge of that."

Lowry said not all imported seafood is unsafe, but people need to be aware of what they're eating.  

"The country of origin is not enough information, and [people] need to make it known to their elected representatives that they are concerned and that they expect their food supply to be safe," he said.

The large percentage of fish imported to the U.S. is due in large part to competing global markets. Cheaper fish come from farms where it is cheaper to raise fish.

But to protect American consumers, President Bush has proposed tougher policing of products before they reach American borders.  He has also given the FDA power to order mandatory recalls of unsafe food.

Layron Livingston, Reporting.


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