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Leading seafood trade group backs greater FDA funding

MCLEAN Va. The group representing companies that produce or import about 75 percent of the seafood consumed domestically is applauding congressional representatives’ call to President Bush to bolster food safety by increasing funding for the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

 “FDA’s resources need to keep pace with its responsibility to maintain the safety standards we have come to expect in an increasingly global food supply,” said John Connelly, president of the 400-member, McLean-based National Fisheries Institute. NFI estimated that more than 80 percent of the sustainable seafood consumed in the U.S. comes from foreign sources.

“A better resourced FDA will go a long way to reassure Americans that their seafood is safe and full of health benefits, no matter what country it comes from,” added Connelly, whose group said it supported a letter by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and 23 other senators asking Bush to increase FDA funding.

The NFI said expanded FDA funding should be used to develop a risk-based system of food protection. It said the agency’s resources should target imports from companies or countries that do not have a strong record of safe and secure shipments to the U.S. Ultimately, NFI sources said, the FDA should reduce the points at which food safety challenges can occur in developing a preventative approach that stops problems at their source, rather than at U.S. borders.

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