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SFB theme issue: The safety of Chinese seafood imports

Property of SeaFood Business magazine
By Fiona Robinson, Editor in Chief
October 01, 2007

Most seafood businesses, especially those in tourist destinations, spend summers doing what they do best: Selling seafood. But those suppliers relying on farmed-seafood imports from China were given a rude jolt this summer when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration slapped an import alert on five farmed-seafood species. Suppliers were immediately thrown into damage-control mode, ensuring their Chinese suppliers were following food-safety protocols and answering frantic calls from their customers. The story broke several months ago and the mainstream press is still running stories questioning the safety of Chinese seafood imports.

The editors at SeaFood Business started the summer determining the topic for our theme issue. This year the choice was obvious: The safety of the country's imported seafood supply. This issue's Top Story, "Guilty until proven innocent," by Associate Editor Steven Hedlund, reveals the weaknesses of the FDA's import-inspection system and the challenges importers have faced since the alert was issued.

The China coverage doesn't stop there: You'll get a candid take on the China dilemma from Contributing Editor Peter Redmayne. His column, "Margins threaten golden goose" on page 14, suggests the U.S. seafood buyer's fixation on price has forced some Chinese farmers to cut food-safety corners. Wally Stevens, executive director of the Global Aquaculture Alliance, gives his opinion on the China matter in "Best Aquaculture Practices: A solution for sustainability" on page 16. Stevens comments on the increased need for certifying overseas aquaculture sources as safe, thus creating an insurance policy for seafood buyers and sellers.

SeaFood Business ' biennial processor survey reveals that some processors are shifting their purchases away from China until the brouhaha calms down. However, respondents filled out the survey at the same time the import alert was announced, and almost 25 percent of processors said they will increase their sourcing from China in the next five years. Turn to page 30 to read more seafood-processing industry topics, including the sustainability and organic product trends.

The Chinese farmed-fish story certainly affects many seafood buyers and will play out for many months to come. Readers can rely on SFB to keep you abreast of all the issues.


Diversified Business Communications, publisher of SFB , in September launched SeafoodSource.com , an online resource for connecting seafood buyers and sellers. The Web site is a comprehensive online industry portal that allows users to search for suppliers, products and services. The site's content includes Seafood Currents news and the Seafood Handbook from SFB .

Seafood Currents subcribers will continue to receive timely news in their e-mail inbox three days a week, and SeafoodSource.com users also will have the benefit of reading the most pertinent seafood industry news coverage.

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