If you think the seafood you’re buying at Lowcountry restaurants and grocery stores are free of potentially hazardous pharmaceuticals and pesticides, you can’t be so sure, a new federal study says.
In 2015, about 90 percent of seafood consumed in the U.S. was imported from overseas, and about half of that comes from fish farms, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The recent analysis released by the U.S. General Accountability Office found that some fish imported from other countries, including China, India and Vietnam, contain high levels of drug residue, yet few samples are ever tested.
High levels of drug residue found on imported seafood can cause cancer or allergic reactions when consumed, according to the Federal Drug Administration.
Agencies that are supposed to protect American consumers, however, are not doing enough to prevent tainted seafood from reaching dinner tables, according to an analysis recently released by the U.S. General Accountability Office.
The analysis found that the FDA is only inspecting about 2 percent of fish processors and fewer than 1 percent of samples were also inspected for unsafe drug residues.
Of the small amount that was tested in 2015, about 12 percent of shrimp, 1 percent of tilapia, and 9 percent of catfish tested positive for drug residues.
Although the FDA and U.S. Department of Agriculture cited limited resources as a reason for a lack of testing, seafood imports continue to rise.
“It is therefore important that federal oversight is effective in ensuring that seafood is free of unsafe drug residues,” the report states.
Despite previous recommendations, as of June 2017, the FDA had not entered into any agreements of arrangement with any country for ensuring the safety of seafood exported to the U.S. from unsafe drug residues, according to the report.