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Members of Congress Ask That Seafood Safety Be Part of TPP Negotiation

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Congressman Walter Jones (R-N.C.) sent a letter to the Obama Administration Thursday asking that public health be a focus during the negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement.

The lawmakers are concerned that, as result of expanded trade with Vietnam and Malaysia – two of the countries included in TPP – the United States could see an influx of imported contaminated seafood. Currently, around 90 percent of the seafood consumed is imported.

In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, the members urged him to pursue agreements with these two countries to help ensure the safety of the American food supply.

The members note that in Fiscal Year 2012, imported seafood products from Vietnam, the fifth largest exporter of shrimp to the United States, were refused entry 206 times because of concerns including filth, decomposition, drug residues, unapproved food additives and Salmonella.

“Meanwhile… U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials determined that some exporters in Malaysia have acted as conduits to transship Chinese shrimp to the United States in order to circumvent both FDA Import Alerts and antidumping duties,” they wrote in the letter. “We strongly believe that these critical food safety issues should be resolved prior to the conclusion of the TPP FTA negotiations in order to best protect the public health from these known health risks.”

The letter suggest that bilateral agreements that focus on strict inspection and certification would be in “the U.S. public’s best interest.”

Read the full letter here.

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