Tons of imported fish laced with chemicals banned from the U.S. food supply, including carcinogens, are routinely showing up in this country and, state officials say, winding up on American dinner plates.
Within the last two months, three American fish importers pleaded guilty in Mobile, Ala., to federal felony charges of mislabeling fish and seafood. Their illegal haul included more than 120,000 pounds of imported fish, brought in to Mobile and Seattle, that tested positive for the suspected human carcinogen malachite green and for another antibiotic that U.S. authorities also prohibit for use on fish that people consume.
What’s more, FairWarning found that states including Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Florida have detected evidence of prohibited substances in recent years while screening imported fish.
"I can tell you right off the bat that 40 percent of the imported fish we test is positive for banned drugs that are not safe for human health," said Brett Hall, deputy commissioner for the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries.
The evidence of tainted imported fish reaching U.S. shores and seeping into the marketplace fleshes out a critical Government Accountability Office audit released in April. The year-long investigation found that the Food and Drug Administration’s inspection system is so haphazard in inspecting imported fish and seafood— screening less than 1 percent of what comes in -- that fish tainted with potentially harmful drugs "may be entering U.S. commerce." The report noted that more than 80 percent of the fish Americans eat is imported from other countries.