Food Poisoning Bulletin | December 2, 2012
Group presses White House for consumer protections in trade negotiations
By Linda Larsen
A bipartisan group including Congresswoman Rose DeLauro (D-CT), Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC) asked the Obama Administration to ensure public health is protected as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement is negotiated. Two countries involved in this agreement, Vietnam and Malaysia, are seafood exporters and have raised red flags.
The group is concerned that seafood imported from those two countries could be contaminated. The letter states, “in Fiscal Year 2012, imported seafood products from Vietnam, the fifth largest exporter of shrimp to the United States, were refused entry 206 times because of concerns including filth, decomposition, drug residues, unapproved food additives, and Salmonella… U.S. Customers and Border Protection officials have determined that some exporters in Malaysia have acted as conduits to transship Chinese shrimp to the United States in order to circumvent both FDA Import Alerts and antidumpting duties.”
There are currently 16 import alerts against seafood products from Vietnam. Malaysia is the seventh largest exporter of shrimp to the U.S. The Malaysian government is not allowing Customs and Border Protection officials to investigate facilities of suspected exporting firms. Malaysian officials rescinded approval for GAO investigators to inspect shrimp producers in that country. Science-based risk assessments should be included in the TPP FTA to decrease the risk associated with imported seafood.
This year, there was a huge outbreak of Salmonella Bareilly and Salmonella Nchanga from raw sushi tuna imported from India. At last count, 425 people in 28 states and the District of Columbia were sickened by the product. FDA inspections found significant food safety violations at the Moon Fishery in India, the facility that produced the contaminated product. Food safety experts would like to see more inspections of foreign facilities as detailed in the Food Safety Modernization Act, which is still stalled in the Office of Budget and Management.