U.S. government says it's taking steps to make seafood safer

Published: Jul. 15, 2019 at 3:38 PM EDT
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Less than one percent of seafood that comes into the U.S. gets tested for unsafe drugs such as dangerous antibiotics.

Now the government said it's taking new steps to make fish a little safer.

After five full days on the water, 63-year-old George Barisich returned home to south Louisiana with 3,500 pounds of shrimp.

"There's small handful of us that are surviving. Not flourishing. Not flourishing at all," Barisich, a shrimper, said.

Times are tough, the federal government estimates that 94% of the seafood consumed in our country comes from overseas.

"You worked hard but you made good money back in the day. Now you work twice as hard for half the money," Barisich said.

But the masses of imported shrimp can also impact your health.

"Imports are just flooding the market. And the worst part about it is they're flooding the market with product that is not healthy to eat," Barisich said.

"What's going on is dangerous," Sen. John Kennedy said.

In February, InvestigateTV showed that 99% of all foreign seafood enters our country untested, but when the FDA does test, it finds banned drugs in nearly 10% of the seafood.

"It's so full of antibiotics, if you eat a steady diet of foreign seafood and you get sick and go to your doctor and need antibiotics for an illness, the antibiotics don't work," Kennedy said.

Kennedy has helped secure an additional $3 million of funding to increase seafood inspections.

The FDA is also announcing a new strategy it hopes will lead to improved testing of foreign seafood.

"I want them to stop giving us tainted seafood," Kennedy said.

The FDA says it will now require importers to prove they are meeting U.S. food safety standards, and the FDA plans to assess other countries regulator oversight to focus more on imports coming from the riskiest countries.

The investigation showed testing in the United States is substandard to many other parts of the world. When some countries find bad seafood, they do more about it.

"We're trying to get to the point like the European Union does. If they inspect it and it's bad, they destroy it. In this country, they inspect it, put it back in the truck and send it to another port, and it circumvents and comes in. Something's wrong with that equation," Barisich said.

And if the equation isn't balanced soon, Barisich believes he'll remain at the disadvantage competing with foreign farmed and possible dangerous shrimp.

"My ponds are designed by god. I don't have any antibiotics. I catch them right here," Barisich said.

The FDA did not respond to our requests for comment on new policies.

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