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.
Our imported fruits and vegetables are not fairing any better. According to an Associated Press analysis of FDA records, border inspectors consistently reject Mexican peppers and chilies. Ten percent of the rejected peppers and chilies were infected with salmonella. Since the FDA inspects less than one percent of all foreign food entering the country, ten percent of one percent is alarming. Mexican imports are disturbing sources of concern, not only from salmonella and E. coli, but also from the heavy pesticides the Mexican Agricultural Industry use in growing produce. It is referred to as “the circle of poison.” Chemical companies sell Mexican Agrifarms pesticides that are banned in this county. There are no regulations in the United States for the exportation of banned or unregistered pesticides. Little, if any, oversight exists for the use of these pesticides on the fruits and vegetables grown by the Mexican agricultural farms. With fifty percent of the imported fruits and vegetables in the United States coming from Mexico, we have an intolerable problem of polluted food.
Because the FDA is underfunded and undermanned, it rests on the consumer to force change.
First, don’t buy any fresh or frozen seafood from Asia. Support your local fisheries and fishermen. Fish farms in the United States typically use clean water, no antibiotics and no chemicals. If your local grocery store only carries Asian imports, request fish and seafood from the United States, or safer imports from Canada, Australia and New Zealand, for example. World trade is not going away. Just make sure you buy the safer imports.
Second, limit any fruits and vegetables from Mexico to reduce pesticide ingestion. Buy locally, if possible. Shop your local farmers and farm markets. Buy organic fruits and vegetables. Plant your own garden.
You are the author of your own health. Protect your well-being with wholesome safe foods. Don’t permit the source of a food to become a danger to your health.