GAA Questions US Ban on Vietnamese Seafood

Actions should be targeted toward offending importers, not the entire Vietnamese seafood sector, Global Aquaculture Alliance president says
August 23, 2005

Several southern U.S. states have banned or limited all seafood from Vietnam following United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) detention action against two Vietnamese firms whose basa products were found to contain residues of floroquinolone antibiotics.

Although the Global Aquaculture Alliance is opposed to the use of such nonapproved antibiotics, which can result in human health concerns and product detention in the marketplace, it also opposes the use of what may be overly broad emergency rules as an artificial trade barrier to hinder the flow of seafood from certain regions.
"The states' actions should be more fully targeted toward the offending importers, not the entire Vietnamese seafood sector," GAA President George Chamberlain said. "They should also be more balanced with similar actions against other protein imports, such as poultry, beef, and pork."
Floroquinolones are broad-spectrum antibiotics used to treat urinary tract infections, gastrointestinal problems, and other illnesses in humans. They are not approved for use in aquaculture, but were until recently used in the poultry industry to control disease and improve growth.
In an emergency order that is more restrictive than federal guidelines for the antibiotics, the state of Alabama is holding all Vietnamese seafood pending approved testing for fluoroquinolones and may seize adulterated product. Louisiana has stopped the sale of hundreds of tons of seafood from Vietnam intended for retail and restaurant sales. Mississippi has ordered retail establishments not to sell basa produced by the companies targeted by FDA.
The National Fisheries Institute (NFI) has indicated Florida also may enact a restrictive emergency ruling due to concerns about the mislabeling of basa as grouper in the state. While the U.S. Congress is out of session, a representative from Arkansas is calling for a nationwide ban on all basa.
NFI does not expect Congress to single out basa for increased testing. However, the increased focus on imported seafood could lead to further emergency rulings in other states.
In cooperation with NFI, the Global Aquaculture Alliance is informing members, affiliates, and international aquaculture producer associations regarding these concerns. It plans to continue alerting producers and others of similar market-related issues in an effort to assure seafood safety and prevent detentions and other trade problems.