Serious Health Risks Associated with Imported Seafood

The Facts About the Seafood Inspection Process in the U.S.

Do you know what you're eating? 


Do you know how safe or dangerous it is?


If not, you’ll be amazed and, more than likely, disgusted with the findings.


"FDA's inspections practices surrounding imported fish essentially consist of a quick visual scan to see if it looks obviously rotten."  Patty Lovera, assistant director of Food and Water Watch.


The Facts Regarding Imported Seafood

With 90% of the seafood consumed in America being imported, the FDA inspects less than 1.5%.  Even more staggering is 40% of the 1.5% is rejected. -  U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)


▪   40% of imported seafood tested positive for banned drugs not safe for humans.  Brett Hall, deputy commissioner for Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries.

▪   Less than .1% (as in less than 1/10 of a percent) is tested for banned drugs residues.  Such antibiotics are given to farmed fish prone to bacterial infections and can cause cancer.  (GAO)

▪   With 300 ports importing seafood, there are only 90 inspectors.

▪   Over 50% of imported seafood is farm raised.  Market Watch, Wall Street Journal.

▪   The FDA has tested 1.5 % of Chinese seafood processing facilities in the last 7 years.  Huffington Post.


Your Seafood’s Disgusting Diet

It's simple. China and most foreign countries do not follow or practice the same standards as we do in the U.S. 


China feeds their Tilapia a diet consisting of the manure of pigs and geese – And they’re the largest importer of Tilapia. The manure contains salmonella, but this has not stopped, as it's the cheaper option. 


Vietnam, the 5th largest importer of shrimp with over 1 billion pounds of shrimp per year, uses ice from water laden with bacteria. The same water has been deemed unsafe to drink in Vietnam because it causes serious health problems.  And yet we just keep cutting government spending in this area.


The Fight Against Contaminated Seafood

Sadly enough, nothing. The Department of Agriculture in Alabama is one of the few states that test for drugs so toxic to humans, they’re banned in all foods.


  • Chloramphenicol
  • Nitrofurans
  • Malachite green


In most cases 40-50% come out positive.


So, you might be asking, “If the government isn’t fixing the problem, what can I do to ensure my seafood isn’t contaminated?”.


We suggest practicing the following to help ensure your safety.


At home, purchase domestic frozen seafood.  Look for the Maine Stewardship Council (MSC) label.  Food carrying the MSC label supports sustainable fishing practices.


And if you prefer not to buy frozen all together, buy local and buy fresh. Ask questions and know where you’re seafood is coming from. Many fresh markets offer same-day, freshly caught seafood at a reasonable price.


In the restaurant, menu design and development is key.  Keep up with local trends in the food market.  The average guest spends approximately 109 seconds to read a menu.  Pull the tilapia, replace with a higher/safer quality item, cost out accordingly and train staff on how to properly sell. Also, remember every item on a menu should tell a story.


And just as we suggested with your home practices, buy local, buy fresh and ask questions. It not only helps you, but it helps our economy.



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