Free trade creates a flood of unsafe seafood
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is supposed to open up barriers to trade, like tariffs on fish imports. But in reality, it opens American markets to unsafe seafood.
Vietnam is one of the biggest exporters of fish-farmed catfish and shrimp in the world. Many of these fish are raised with veterinary medicines or chemicals that are unsafe and illegal in the United States. Yet the TPP’s lifting of tariffs on international imports would allow more seafood from Vietnam and other countries to become available at U.S. supermarkets.
U.S. seafood inspectors are overwhelmed with imports
U.S. border inspections have failed to keep pace with the flood of imports and dangerous imports may be slipping past the safety inspectors. In 2011, there were about 90 federal seafood inspectors assigned to examine 5.2 billion total pounds of imported fish and seafood.
Each inspector looks at some 58 million pounds of seafood a year – or about a quarter million pounds of imported fish every workday. As a result, very few shipments of fish from places such as Vietnam are actually inspected at the border. This low level of inspection leaves people vulnerable to foodborne illnesses and exposure to dangerous chemicals and high levels of antibiotics.