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« เมื่อ: กรกฎาคม 19, 2007, 09:43:37 AM »

Inspection tightens on fish from China

By Cindy Snyder, Ag Weekly correspondent
 
   
TWIN FALLS, Idaho — A decision to detain all imports of five species of fish farm-raised in China isn’t expected to impact Idaho’s aquaculture industry, although some consumer concern over tainted products could lead Americans to eat even less fish.

Americans consumed a record high 16.6 pounds of fish and shellfish per person in 2005, but that’s still not enough to meet the two to three servings per week recommended for heart health.


 
Gary Fornshell, University of Idaho extension aquaculture specialist, said the decision to detain the products is not an import ban. Rather all imported farm-raised eel, dace, shrimp, basa and catfish will be tested and must be shown to be residue-free before being released for sale in the United States. Before the June 28 decision, about 2 percent of all imported farm-raised seafood products from China were tested.

Federal Food and Drug Administration officials who announced the increased testing requirements said the agency has a “zero tolerance” policy for unapproved antibiotics in imported seafood products. Officials said there was no public health threat from product already on store shelves because the amount of residue detected has been at “extremely low levels.”

According to the National Fisheries Institute, 80 percent of the shrimp consumed in the United States is imported but only 7 percent of that comes from China. About 10 percent of the catfish consumed in the United States comes from China.

American consumers who are concerned about where their seafood comes from have had an opportunity to check labels since April 2005 when retail outlets and grocery stores were required to add country-of-origin to seafood product labels.
   

Ken Ashley, with Sea Pac, Inc. of Filer, told the Ag Weekly earlier this year that country-of-origin labeling is a good idea.

“I think a lot of product comes in that people don’t know where it comes from,” Ashley said. “Other countries are not held to the same standards we are. If you want assurances of food safety and antibiotic use, you need to be careful about where the product comes from.”

Fish processors and producers have another opportunity to tell the U.S. Department of Agriculture how country-of-origin labeling program, otherwise known as COOL, is working. The interim final rule for seafood became effective in April 2005.

Last fall, USDA took public comment regarding the economic impacts of the rule, including implementation costs and record-keeping requirements. This comment period, which closes August 20, will be used to collect data for developing the final rule for mandatory labeling and perhaps applying the requirement to other commodities.

Details of the new comment period reopening are published in the June 20 issue of the Federal Register. Comments are due by August 20.

and should be submitted, preferably online, or by the following methods:

• Web site:http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main

• via e-mail to cool@usda.gov

• or by mail to Country of Origin Labeling Program, Room 2607-S, Agricultural Marketing Service, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Stop 0254, Washington, DC 2025-0254; or by fax to (202) 720 n 1112.

http://www.agweekly.com/articles/2007/07/18/news/ag_news/news46.txt
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