U.S. food-safety measure targets shrimp imports

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) is in the final stages of crafting a measure that would require the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to increase its testing of imported shrimp from less than 2 percent to 20 percent by 2015.

The measure, which would be attached to the U.S. food-safety bill currently moving through Congress, is designed to curb imported shrimp “contaminated” with “harmful” antibiotics and pesticides, according to the Southern Shrimp Alliance (SSA), which worked with Landrieu on the amendment.

The bill, called the FDA Safe Food Modernization Act and introduced by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) in March 2009, is designed to expand the FDA’s authority to test food for pathogens, trace outbreaks, order recalls and penalize companies. A similar bill has been introduced in the House.

Landrieu’s amendment addresses imported shrimp specifically. The U.S. market is a target for tainted shrimp because of its lack of testing and “forgiving” penalties for violations, said the SSA on Friday. The measure would also impose “tough” new registration and enforcement requirements and penalties for violations and tighten restrictions on the importation of food produced with child or forced labor.

“U.S. shrimp fishermen are grateful for Sen. Landrieu’s bold leadership on the issue of contaminated seafood imports,” said SSA Executive Director John Williams. “We have documented repeatedly that unscrupulous companies use the same circumvention schemes, such as transshipment and mislabeling, to avoid both U.S. food-safety laws and fair trade laws.”

The SSA, which represents shrimp fishermen and processors from the Carolinas to Texas, filed the antidumping petition with the U.S. government that lead to tariffs on shrimp imports from six Asian and South American countries in 2005.

Landrieu’s home state of Louisiana represents upward of half of the annual Gulf of Mexico shrimp catch.

All Food Safety & Health stories >

Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500