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Agencies Partner on Seafood Inspection

In a move that is sure to please sushi lovers everywhere, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and U.S. Food Drug Administration (FDA) announced an interagency partnership this week to ramp up seafood safety inspections.

The new agreement formalizes an existing relationship between NOAA’s Fisheries Service Seafood Inspection Program and the FDA to improve the inspection of fish, fishery products, and establishments.

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According to NOAA, inspection agents from each agency will work together “when appropriate” and NOAA will share inspection results with FDA.

“Americans are eating an average of 16 pounds of seafood a year–that’s a lot of fish,” said Jim Balsiger, acting NOAA assistant administrator for the agency’s fisheries service. “This partnership will help ensure that seafood consumers–who spent nearly $70 billion on seafood last year–continue to get safe, healthy seafood through combining our resources with FDA.”

The new agreement is also a Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommendation. The GAO has called for the FDA to use NOAA results when setting risk-based seafood inspections to better leverage restricted resources.

In addition to outlining the procedure for the two agencies to work together, the agreement will also improve NOAA’s inspections.

The new agreement will also inform FDA policy-making on seafood safety. Information from NOAA inspections can help the FDA formulate improved regulations. 

According to NOAA, 30 percent of seafood sold in the US is inspected under the agency’s watch. Inspectors can be stationed at fish facilities, on vessels, as well as on the retail level.

Photo credit: NOAA.

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