Chinese authorities announce new campaign against antibiotic use in aquaculture

Published on
April 11, 2017

Chinese authorities are launching a renewed attack on chemical use in seafood destined for the domestic market. 

The country’s agricultural ministry announced a nationwide action plan on 3 April concerning the contamination of agricultural products. It said it planned to combat the use of “two drugs in three fishes” – a reference to use of malachite green and furfuran in turbot, snakehead fish (also known as grey mullet or mugil cephalus) and Mandarin fish (Chinese perch or Siniperca chuatsi). 

The campaign is set to feature checks on fish markets, supermarkets and restaurants, though such checks are already being performed by the State Food and Drug Administration (CFDA), the body charged with implementing China’s food safety laws. 

The problem of antibacterial agents in aquaculture, fake agricultural antibiotics and the overuse of pesticides in tea farming and clenbuterol in pigs all featured heavily in the annual Consumers Day on 15 March. The day of awareness featured exposés of shoddy food production practices, broadcast on state TV. The use of furfural – a chemical feedstock sometimes used by Chinese fishmongers to give a sheen to seafood – is of particular concern to the country’s consumers, given its toxicity.  

Contributing Editor reporting from Beijing, China

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