1 million pounds of shrimp, eel, and catfish somehow slipped past the FDA’s ban on Chinese seafood. All seafood covered by the ban arrives at U.S. ports under an import alert, which ostensibly prevents the fish from leaving until private testing proves the absence of banned antibiotics and drugs. Chinese importers, resorting to tricks possibly gleaned from Wile E. Coyote, evade the FDA by shipping their contraband under the names and addresses of companies unaffected by the import alert. From the AP:
The AP reviewed 4,300 manifests of seafood shipments from China compiled by Piers Reports, a company that tracks import-export data, and found 211 shipments that arrived under import alert since last fall.
FDA officials refused to identify exactly which shipments were tested, saying they were too busy to do so.
So the AP contacted importers directly, talking to 15 companies responsible for 112 of the 211 shipments. Eleven said their products were tested; four said the FDA did not bother to stop a total of 28 shipments weighing 1.1 million pounds. Virtually all the shipments entered through ports in the Southeast, including Tampa, Fla., Miami and Savannah, Ga.
The importer with the most cases was Florida-based Tampa Bay Fisheries.
Chief executive Robbie Paterson said 23 shipments of breaded or dusted frozen shrimp delivered between October and May were not inspected. In rare cases, the FDA removes from its watch list companies that have passed five straight tests. Paterson said he assumed that was why Tampa Bay’s shipments went through.
Not so: Tampa Bay’s shrimp supplier the Fuqing City Dongyi Trading Co. was on the watch list.
Three other companies said a total of five shipments of catfish, eel or shrimp were not stopped and tested.
The FDA recently sniveled to Congress that their 450 inspectors couldn’t possibly screen the 20 million shipments of potentially contaminated food that cross our borders each year. Despite their admitted incompetence, the ban may be having an effect. U.S importers are reporting that China is starting to withhold shipments that might not meet FDA standards.