[StBernard] Fighting for Seafood Safety

Westley Annis Westley at da-parish.com
Wed Apr 30 22:35:51 EDT 2008

Dear Friend,

As a leader in the seafood industry, our state has important concerns relating to seafood imports, especially those imported from China. We must do all that we can to prevent the import of seafood into our country that is tainted, damaged or spoiled. By assuring that all imports comply with existing federal and state guidelines, we can better protect American consumers and the Louisiana families who depend on this industry for their way of life.

We need a fair, even playing field to help this industry thrive. Of course, that must include adequate health and safety measures for imports ‑ just as we enforce those measures for domestic seafood. But right now, we don’t have that level playing field, especially for imports from China.

Seafood producers from China and other countries use chemical treatments that are not approved for use in the United States. Last week, I introduced a bill to enhance the safety of imported seafood into the United States. The Imported Seafood Safety Enhancement Act of 2008 would require the secretary of Health and Human Services to refuse entry to any shipment of seafood products that is determined to violate the standards of the Federal Food, Cosmetic and Drug Act or any other federal law regarding food safety. My bill also adds additional provisions to prevent the importation of seafood that has been previously rejected for admission.

If a shipment of seafood is rejected by officials at a local port, current notification procedures are too slow to effectively prevent that cargo from being routed to another facility. My bill would require that those shipments to be clearly labeled as having been refused entry by the government to prevent offenders from ‘port shopping’ for an additional point of entry.

The bill would require rejected shipments of seafood to be labeled as having been refused entry and require that the secretary of Health and Human Services to issue notice within five days ‑ up from the average of 348 days that it takes now ‑ to all U.S. ports of entry if an importer attempts to bring a rejected shipment into the country.

I am also working on a bill that would use antidumping and countervailing duties on seafood from the People’s Republic of China to increase safety testing of Chinese seafood.
As a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which oversees issues relating to fisheries and trade, I will continue to call attention to these important issues and work to help protect this valuable industry – and to ensure the safety of imported seafood.

Sen. David Vitter

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