The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released a report, titled, Activities for the Safety of Imported Seafood. The document shares the steps that FDA is taking to ensure that seafood imported to the U.S. meets food safety requirements and the standards of domestically produced seafood.
According to FDA, seafood is one of the most highly traded food commodities in the world, with 2018 total imports accounting for approximately 94 percent of seafood sold by volume in the U.S. The safety of imported seafood, particularly shrimp, the most consumed type of seafood in the U.S., has garnered the attention of the U.S. Congress and industry, among other stakeholders, resulting in the FDA Strategy for the Safety of Imported Food, which is the basis of the present report. The import strategy is guided by four goals:
- Food Offered for Import Meets U.S. Food Safety Requirements
- FDA Border Surveillance Prevents Entry of Unsafe Foods
- Rapid and Effective Response to Unsafe Imported Food
- Effective and Efficient Food Import Program
Activities for the Safety of Imported Seafood details how FDA regulatory activities, alongside innovative programs and technology, are employed to support each of the four goals as they relate to imported seafood safety. Efforts include:
- Proactively engaging and establishing partnerships with FDA regulatory counterparts in countries that export seafood to the U.S.
- Exploring the use of artificial intelligence (AI), specifically machine learning, to strengthen predictive analytics
- Developing new tools that leverage technology, such as geographic information systems (GIS), to provide spatial intelligence about potential seafood hazards.
Many of the new import oversight tools described in the report align with activities under FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety initiative, which focuses on creating a more digital, traceable, and safer food system and builds upon the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
Additionally, in November 2022, the FDA released the Activities for the Safety of Imported Produce report. Similar to the seafood report, the document outlines how the agency is working to enhance the safety of imported produce guided by the four goals established in the imported food safety strategy document. Today, the U.S. imports roughly 32 percent of its fresh vegetables and 55 percent of its fresh fruit.