FDA sends alerts, warning letters to Asian companies over mislabeled fish

catfishJACKSON — Analyses of FDA food safety import alerts and warning letters indicate a heightened effort to combat continuing problems with many imported seafood products, according to The Catfish Institute.

On Jan. 7, the FDA issued a new seafood import alert addressing the continuing problem of exports to the U.S. of fish falsely labeled. Exporters targeted for extra surveillance include four Vietnamese and two Chinese firms cited for mislabeling pangasius (basa, tra and swai) as other more valuable fish species.

Such mislabeling can expose consumers to risks of allergic reactions and other potential health hazards. Studies have shown that restaurants in many major markets in the U.S. mislabel as much as 25 to 50 percent of seafood offered on menus.

Separately, of the 110 warning letters issued by the FDA to all food producers thus far this year, nearly a quarter of them cite seafood companies. Warning letters are issued when products do not meet FDA safety standards. This percentage is consistent with past studies finding that seafood and seafood imports are among the most frequent violators of food safety standards.

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