FDA urged to stop seafood fraud
By SeafoodSource staff
16 October, 2012
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has called upon the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take action on seafood fraud, which she said is a financial and, in some cases, public health risk to consumers.
“It is unacceptable that proven fraud is occurring on such a widespread basis,” Boxer wrote in a letter to FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg. “Seafood fraud is not only deceptive marketing, but it can also pose serious health concerns, particularly for pregnant women seeking to limit exposure to heavy metals or individuals with serious allergies to certain types of fish.”
The problem of fish and other seafood being deliberately mislabeled before being sold to customers, Boxer wrote, is a widespread problem. She cited numerous samples of fish and seafood from grocery stores, restaurants and sushi venues in various metropolitan areas taken by conservation group Oceana.
The group then had the samples genetically tested to verify their composition, and, Boxer wrote, in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, 31 percent of the tested seafood was mislabeled. In similar studies in Los Angeles and Orange counties, she wrote, 55 percent were mislabeled.
Not only is this disingenuous, Boxer wrote, but it can also pose a health risk, especially to people with certain seafood allergies, or pregnant women who rely on labeling to make dietary decisions. Boxer noted in 2007, several serious illnesses occurred after toxic puffer fish were mislabeled as monkfish to get around U.S. import restrictions.
In the letter, Senator Boxer wrote, “Consumers should not have to question the safety of their seafood.”
Right now, 86 percent of seafood consumed in the United States originates overseas, and Boxer has asked the agency to respond with more information about its inspection process, including what steps it will take to improve enforcement to protect the safety of consumers.
“To effectively address this problem, we need better traceability and enforcement throughout the entire chain of sale, from bait to plate,” Boxer said.
16 October, 2012