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Imported Seafood from China on Increased FDA Radar

Thursday, 5 Jul 2007 | 11:05 AM ET

A senior scientist at Consumers Union told "Squawk Box" that the U.S. regulators need to step-up inspections of food coming from China, particularly seafood.

According to the Consumer Union's Michael Hansen, the U.S. has been getting an increasing amount of its seafood from China. About 20% to 22% of all U.S. seafood comes with China, but for certain types of fish the percentages are greater, he said. For example, 87% of all eel comes from China and 12% of all shrimp, he said.

Although unprocessed seafood lists its country of origin, processed seafood does not, he said. This puts more a burden on the FDA, he said.

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Concerns about food from China have been heightened following reports of contaminated pet food and toothpaste from the country. Recently, tainted seafood has become more of a concern as well.

"The FDA is in part to blame because they should be stepping up to do more inspections," Hansen said.

According to Hansen, the FDA currently tests less than 1% of all imported seafood in a laboratory. The U.S. watchdog visually inspects 2% of all seafood, but Europe visually inspects a greater amount - some 30% to 50%, he said.

"China really is under the gun," Hansen said.

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