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April 23, 2015

 United States

Will the USDA Begin Inspecting Shrimp Imports?


That question is coming into focus this week after one of United States Department of Agriculture’s top two food safety officials told a gathering of food policy wonks on April 21, 2015, that the final rule for the agency’s takeover of catfish inspections is coming “a little into May”.  And tomorrow, the focus will turn to the alleged dangers and the light testing of foreign shrimp.


Imports dominate the American seafood diet, and shrimp might be the next species coming in for special attention.  Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports (CR), will be out on Friday, April 23, 2015, with a new report on frozen shrimp, which account for 94 percent of USA shrimp consumption.


The report is embargoed, but CR’s concerns about foreign shrimp are great enough that it will recommend that its readers buy only “responsibly-caught” USA wild shrimp “when possible.”  It will also point to how rare FDA inspections are of imported shrimp, a criticism catfish farmers have often made about their foreign competition.


Gavin Gibbons, spokesman for the National Fisheries Institute, which represents the imported seafood industry, said, “We’ve been tweeting about this pending Consumer Reports story, which of course we can’t comment on until we see, but I can tell you that Consumer Reports has an abysmal track record of reporting on seafood.”


As for shrimp following catfish down the inspection road, Gibbons does not see it happening.  “The only thing the two items have in common is that anti-competition groups have hijacked a food safety narrative and hoodwinked some into believing this is not about excluding imports from the USA market,” he said.  The NFI spokesman also wonders why CR takes such an “overtly protectionist” stance on shrimp, but not foreign cars and electronics.


Source: Food Safety News.   Coming USDA Catfish Inspections Raise Question: Could Shrimp Be Next?  Dan Flynn.  April 23, 2015.

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