The U.S. Food and Drug Administration may soon loosen import restrictions imposed last June on Chinese shrimp, catfish, basa, dace and eel, according to a report last week by USA Today.
The FDA announced the restrictions last year after several shipments of Chinese seafood tested positive for antimicrobial drugs such as nitrofurans and malachite green, which are prohibited in U.S. aquaculture operations due to their potential to pose long-term cancer risks in humans.
The percentage of Chinese seafood shipments testing positive for these and other chemicals has dropped from about 25% to less than 6%, Don Kraemer, deputy director of the FDA's Office of Food Safety, told the paper. The agency this month was given the opportunity to audit the facilities of 13 seafood processors in China — all chosen by the Chinese government — and has said that it will decide within the next few weeks whether to lift its current “import alert” restrictions, which require shipments of Chinese seafood to be held at port for additional inspections and testing for specific chemicals.
Despite these additional rules, an investigative report from the Associated Press last August found that after the import alert was put in place, at least 1 million pounds of Chinese seafood was sold in U.S. supermarkets and restaurants without being held or subjected to additional tests.