This week’s Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee hearing discussed the need for increased seafood safety standards. Earlier this year, SBC Chairman David Vitter (R-La.) introduced the Imported Seafood Safety Standards Act, which increases inspection standards on imported seafood to ensure foreign exporters meet U.S. safety standards. Click here for more information.
Witnesses during the hearing admitted that the current process to examine foreign seafood should be improved and that higher safety standards overall are necessary. Below are video clips from the hearing.
FDA Official Admits High Levels of Risk with Current Seafood Imports
“In 2014, only about 2.77% of all seafood imports were inspected. Do you think that percentage is adequate, and if not, what does the FDA plan to do differently?” – Sen. Vitter
“Examination at the border as a verification activity at the various rates [of risk] that we do we think is a viable control measure in light of all the other measures that we have in place.” – Dr. Steven Solomon, Deputy Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
“The level you do now is not optimal?” – Sen. Vitter
“With additional resources we could look at lower levels of risk. We’re looking at the highest levels of risk now... The system is not fool-proof, I agree with you.” – Dr. Solomon
Click here to see Vitter’s exchange with FDA’s Dr. Solomon.
Commissioner Strain Explains Need for Increased Seafood Safety Standards
“Dr. Strain, I also wanted to touch on my Imported Seafood Safety Act... As you know, it would give States more power to increase seafood inspections for foreign imports in conjunction with the federal government… What is your view on that and how it could improve seafood safety?” – Sen. Vitter
“The American public when they go to the market, 100% of mammalian proteins for beef and pork and 99% of poultry… all those proteins are inspected. They are monitored… tested, and back-traced. The American people believe their seafood that they consume is inspected and safe at that same level… We know that we’re not. 85% of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported, and less than 3% is being tested.” – Dr. Mike Strain, Commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry
“Give us the authority in a cooperative endeavor agreement to be a further arm [of the federal government].” – Commissioner Strain
“If that were done, which I certainly support and am advocating through my bill, that would be fully consistent with the federal standards. It wouldn’t be using different standards in any way. You’d just be additional cops on the beat, correct?” – Sen. Vitter
“That’s correct.” – Commissioner Strain
Click here to see Vitter’s exchange with Commissioner Strain.