SSA lauds GAO fraud report
The Southern Shrimp Alliance (SSA) on Tuesday reacted to a 20 March Government Accountability Office report calling out federal agencies for failing to prevent mislabeling and other forms of economic fraud common to the seafood trade.
The report pointed out that economic integrity isn't a U.S. Food and Drug Administration priority and takes a backseat to food safety, and recommended the FDA work closely with the National Marine Fisheries Service and Customs and Border Production to minimize economic fraud.
The SSA accuses foreign shrimp exporters of deliberately mislabeling a product's country of origin to evade tariffs, an illegal practice known as transshipping. The eight-state group of U.S. shrimp fishermen and processors filed an antidumping petition against six Asian and South American shrimp-producing countries in late 2003 resulting in tariffs in early 2005.
"Unethical companies are not just avoiding payment of hundreds of millions of dollars owed on unfairly traded shrimp when they mislabel or transship products. They are also directly undermining the food safety protections intended to prevent unsafe shrimp from being sold to U.S. consumers," said SAA Executive Director John Williams.
"A solid food-safety program requires U.S. government agencies to cooperate and close the door on all illegal schemes that disguise the origins of America's favorite seafood. This GAO report is a good first step in that direction," added Williams. "The U.S. cannot win the battle on food safety without addressing economic fraud such as mislabeling and transshipment."