A new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommends actions that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) could take to strengthen their efforts to prevent unsafe drug residues in imported seafood. Most seafood consumed in the United States is imported, and about half of it is raised on fish farms. Because farmed seafood is raised in confined areas and susceptible to infections, farmers may use drugs like antibiotics. The use of unapproved drugs or the misuse of approved drugs may result in unsafe residues in seafood. FDA and FSIS are responsible for ensuring the safety of imported seafood and catfish, respectively. FDA could strengthen its efforts to ensure the safety of imported seafood from unsafe drug residues by pursuing agreements with other countries requiring that they test seafood exported to the United States for unsafe drug residues. FSIS could strengthen its efforts to ensure the safety of imported catfish by making visits to foreign fish farms a routine part of its equivalence determinations and requiring foreign countries to test for drugs of concern to FSIS. Finally, by coordinating the development of drug residue testing methods and the drug residue levels the agencies use to determine if seafood is unsafe, FDA and FSIS could have reasonable assurance that they are taking a consistent approach to ensuring consumer safety from unsafe drug residues.
The report can be accessed here: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-17-443
Sign up for Food Safety Magazine’s bi-weekly emails!
Subscribe to our new podcast: Food Safety Matters!