Earlier this summer, the White House established a Presidential Task Force on Combating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud and requested comments from the public to help inform and advise the task force in developing recommendations for the president.
“Seafood fraud” refers to any action that misrepresents or mischaracterizes seafood in the supply chain — including species substitution.
Comments submitted Tuesday by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and 12 other public health and consumer protection organizations and individuals called on the task force to recommend “robust traceability requirements” for all seafood sold in the U.S. Such requirements would includes location of catch or harvest, species-specific names for seafood, and information about how the seafood was caught or farmed.
They also want to see strengthened coordination and communication between federal agencies responsible for detecting and preventing seafood fraud.
The signatories, which also include the American Public Health Association, the Center for Food Safety, the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Federation of America, and Food and Water Watch, say that seafood fraud can be a threat to both public health and the environment.
Pregnant women and children should avoid certain fish that could have higher concentrations of heavy metals such as methylmercury, but these species are sometimes sold as fish without health advisories.
Consumers may also be exposed to antibiotic residues and other harmful substances when certain farmed fish are substituted for wild-caught ones.
And “illegal fishing and fraud threatens global efforts to protect vulnerable fish stocks for future generations,” the groups write.
At least 80 percent of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported, but less than 2 percent of it is inspected by the Food and Drug Administration.© Food Safety News