FDA plans to seize some Chinese shrimp, other seafood

WASHINGTON The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that it would seize shipments of farm-raised shrimp and other seafood from China to protect consumers from being exposed to carcinogens.

The "broader import control" extends to farm-raised catfish, eel, dace, and basa as well as shrimp, the agency said. Shipments will be held until the FDA agency verifies that the supplies are free from residues of nitrofuran, malachite green and gentian violet, it said in a statement

The substances are used in Chinese antimicrobial agents that are illegal in the U.S., according to the FDA. It noted that all three have been shown to be causes of cancer.

"We're taking this strong step because of current and continuing evidence that certain Chinese aquaculture products contain illegal substances that are not permitted in seafood sold in the United States," said David Acheson, the FDA's assistant commissioner for food protection.

The potential contaminants were found in samples of Chinese seafood between October 2006 and may 2007, the statement specified. The FDA acknowledged that the levels were "most often at or near the minimum level of protection." It is not seeking a recall or destruction of seafood that is already in the marketplace.