The National Marine Fisheries Service lists China as supplying 70 percent of America’s tilapia. China and Thailand are the largest suppliers of imported shrimp. After traveling over two thousand miles throughout Mainland China and spending five days on the Yangtze River, I have become alarmed at the condition of our imported seafood from Asia.
The waterways of China and Hong Kong are so polluted with industrial chemicals, farm effluents, and human waste that seafood exporters must rely on antibiotic treatment just to keep the fish alive. I witnessed several bloated and decaying bodies, both human and animal, floating down the Yangtze. The Yangtze River empties into the waterways from which much of the exported seafood is fished. Seafood from Asian Fish Farms is no healthier than seafood caught in the wild. Thai and Chinese fishponds are notoriously filthy and pumped full of antibiotics. The FDA discovered the presence of the powerful antibiotic, chloramphenicol, in the imported Asian shrimp. Studies link the antibiotic chloramphenicol, a carcinogen, to anemia and leukemia, especially in children. In a recently published article, CBS News Correspondent Wyatt Andrews quotes food safety expert Caroline Smith DeWaal, “Chloramphenciol is a serious problem in the human food supply,” she said. “It’s like taking a drug that’s not prescribed.”
Catfish imports from China are another serious concern for the presence of antibiotics. Flouoroquinolone antibiotics, which the FDA has banned for use in food, are showing up in tests conducted on catfish imported from China. “Aside from the threats to health, the imports have also been a threat to the economy of the Mississippi Delta, which provides more than three-fourths of the catfish eaten in the United States,” emphasized a report aired on National Public Radio. An influx of cheap imports from Asia is putting the American catfish farmers out of business.
Since only about one percent of our imported seafood is monitored by the FDA, most of the contaminated seafood ends up on our dinner tables.