US blocks China seafood

Farmed fish imports join growing list of products deemed hazardous to health.

    Shipments of catfish, as well as other farmed fish and seafood have been stopped by the FDA [AP]
    Instead it said the temporary block would remain until suppliers can prove the shipments are free from harmful residues.
    Growing list
    The seafood joins a growing list of Chinese products that officials in the US and other countries have banned or issued warnings over.
    Tainted Chinese goods

    China this week "guaranteed" the safety of its exports, especially food, saying it has closed 180 factories in the past six months over poor standards.

    But many countries have banned, recalled or raised concerns over Chinese produce. 

    United States
    Chinese Fish, shrimp and eel found to have traces of antibiotics and antifungals.

    Pet food said to be tainted with melamine, a chemical used in plastics and fertilisers.

    Filthy frozen crab meat, roasted eel laced with unsafe additives and tilapia tainted by salmonella



    Chinese toothpaste made with diethylene glycol, a toxic ingredient in antifreeze. Antibiotic or pesticide residues in food products



    Excessive antibiotic or pesticide residues in Chinese shrimp, honey and other products


    Hong Kong

    Chinese turbot found to contain traces of malachite green - potential cancer-causing chemical used to treat fungal infections



    Babies die after being fed fake baby formula, cancer-causing dyes injected into eggs to make yolks redder, and children given saltwater passed off as vaccines

    Alerts have been raised over such products as toothpaste made with diethylene glycol, a toxic ingredient more commonly found in antifreeze, toy trains coated with paint containing lead, and defective tyres.
    Earlier this year, melamine, a chemical used in plastics and fertilizers, surfaced in US pet food, killing hundreds of animals and prompting wide recalls.
    On Thursday China's ministry of commerce insisted that the safety of Chinese exports was "guaranteed", making a rare direct comment on spreading international fears over tainted products.
    "China pays close attention to anything that concerns food safety, especially people's health, no matter whether it's food imported from other countries or exported from China," spokesman Wang Xinpei said.
    "The quality of food imported from China is guaranteed."
    Commening on the US block on Chinese seafood, FDA officials said the level of the drugs found in the affected fish imports was low and they were not urging stores or consumers to throw away any of the suspect seafood yet.
    David Acheson, the FDA's assistant commissioner for food protection said it was "a low likelihood" that the drugs would prove cancerous over the long run, but added that "we don't want to take a chance".
    The FDA will allow individual shipments of certain seafood if a company can show the products are free of residues of these drugs.

    Chinese toothpaste, some made for children,
    have been found to have a toxic chemical [AP]

    "This shifts the burden of proof back to the importer to prove to us that it is safe," Acheson said.
    The FDA currently inspects only about 5 per cent of farmed Chinese fish, agency officials said.
    The FDA also found companies in the Philippines and Mexico using the drugs and has issued similar import alerts for those products.
    In May, the FDA stopped shipments of frozen crab meat found to be filthy, as well as roasted eel laced with unsafe additives, tilapia fillets tainted by salmonella and an unidentified fish mislabelled as catfish.
    Earlier this week Chinese authorities announced that they had shut down 180 domestic food manufacturers in the past six months for making substandard food or using inedible materials for food production.
    Beijing also said it would scrutinise imports and deal with violations according to international safety standards, after seizing shipments of orange pulp and preserved apricots from the US, citing high levels of bacteria, mildew and sulphur dioxide.
    But China's economic boom, and its continued growth, depends overwhelmingly on its position as one of the world’s biggest producers of consumer goods.
    Al Jazeera's Beijing correspondent Melissa Chan says with questions growing about the safety of those products it now needs to build global trust – so that people around the world will not become suspicious when they see the label, "Made in China".

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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