Chinese seafood exports to face more scrutiny?


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
October 18, 2011

Expect more food shipments from China to the United States to face examination and potentially detention as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration implements the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), according to Benjamin England, a 17-year FDA veteran and founder and CEO of and

On Wednesday, England listed the three major challenges facing Chinese food exporters ahead of the China Fisheries & Seafood Expo, which talks place in Qingdao, China, from 1 to 3 November.

One of the three major challenges is juggling speed and quality control. “One of the toughest parts about FDA compliance from a manufacturing standpoint is that there’s always a tension between speed and quality control,” said England.

To stay competitive, Chinese companies are producing more at a faster rate. “When you do that month after month there is a risk that quality control is diminished,” he said. “because the rules are getting more complicated and production outpaces your ability to stay on top of it.” 

And the FDA’s rules aren’t getting any less complex, especially with the enactment of the FSMA, which President Obama signed into law at the beginning of the year.” However complex they appear to American companies, simply double or triple the potential for confusion for foreign manufacturers and importers,” said England. “Regulatory compliance is at a level now where you either have to be an expert, know an expert or have uncanny good luck.”

The third major challenge is understanding the increased role of third-party programs. “U.S. Congress had to force FDA, in the FSMA, to work with its sister agencies just to get the governmental parties together to work on inspections of foreign seafood processors,” said England. “Although Congress requires FDA to implement third-party programs, I expect FDA will be reluctant to make much progress.”

Click here to listen to last month’s webinar featuring England. You must be a SeafoodSoource premium member to access it. 

Want seafood news sent to your inbox?