WASHINGTON — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration can do more to regulate drug residues in imported seafood, according to a report released last week by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The GAO report, titled “FDA Needs to Improve Oversight of Imported Seafood and Better Leverage Limited Resources,” noted that half of imported seafood is farmed, and due to confined quarters, which foster infections, the fish are sometimes given drugs.
The report cited problems with FDA's reliance on record inspections and lack of on-site facility inspections, and said that the aquaculture program assessments FDA has done “have been limited by FDA's lack of procedures, criteria and standards.” GAO criticisms also extend to the scope and implementation of the FDA's sampling program, noting that the program doesn't usually test for drugs that are legal in other countries, but not approved in the U.S. for fish farming.
In addition, the GAO mentioned that in 2009, only 0.1% of all imported seafood underwent drug residue testing. After the report was released, Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro, D-Conn., who oversees drug and food safety as a member of a subcommittee responsible FDA and agriculture, said that more FDA funding is needed. “This report makes clear to me that the FDA must improve their review of imported food so that we inspect and analyze a higher percentage of seafood and look for drug residues that present a risk to the health of American consumers.”