Vietnam pangasius suppliers face US export and parasite problems

Published on
August 18, 2017

A Vietnamese official warned that new rules may prohibit the export of pangasius to the United States in the future. Simultaneously, Norwegian researchers detected Chinese liver fluke, a dangerous parasite, in some Vietnamese pangasius.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) began inspecting all imported catfish in early August. Only two of 14 Vietnamese pangasius exporters are exporting significant amounts of the fish to the United States because of the new FSIS rules and a high anti-dumping tax, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers, Vietnam News Brief Service reported.

What’s more, Nguyen Phu Hoa, deputy head of the Department of Import-Export under Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade, said that Vietnamese pangasius exporters will likely not be able to meet the new regulations, meaning pangasius exports may be stopped by March 2018, Vietnam News Brief Service said.

“For a decade, NFI has consistently explained to anyone who will listen that the USDA program is a pretext for excluding a fish, that certain domestic producers don’t want to compete against, from the U.S. market,” said Gavin Gibbons, spokesman for the National Fisheries Institute. “That is exactly what is playing out now, with FSIS insisting on completion in mere months of a process that, by the agency’s own admission, historically has taken far longer.”

Meanwhile, the Bergen, Norway-based National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research scientists said the Chinese liver fluke parasite they found on some Mekong Delta pangasius can cause serious liver disease and cancer if the seafood is eaten raw.

"We did not expect to find Chinese liver fluke. This is a new parasite species for the Mekong Delta," NIFES scientist Arne Levsen said. ”Serious infections with hundreds of flukes can cause inflammation and blockage of the bile ducts, often with jaundice-like symptoms. In a worst-case scenario, the parasite can even cause liver cancer”

Levsen encouraged tourists visiting Vietnam and Southeast Asia to avoid local, only lightly processed fish dishes since proper heating is required to kill the parasites.

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