Seafood rules to be unveiled by the FDA

June 08, 1993|By Chicago Tribune

WASHINGTON -- The Food and Drug Administration soon will unveil plans to require the nation's 3,800 seafood processors and wholesalers to adopt state-of-the-art quality control programs for handling much of the fish and shellfish sold in the United States.

FDA Commissioner David Kessler said the new seafood regulations will herald the start of a decade-long effort to revolutionize federal oversight of the entire food industry, ranging from raw farm products to canned and frozen goods and restaurant servings.

Dr. Kessler said regulators have failed to keep up with developments in the way food is processed and served, and these changes apparently have exposed more Americans to illness. While there is no reason for grave alarm, scientists say that each year millions of Americans become ill -- and an estimated 9,000 die -- from eating tainted foods.

In an examination of seafood at processing plants across the country last year, federal inspectors found one in six pieces contaminated.

Dr. Kessler plans to focus first on the seafood industry because it clearly has problems, more people are eating seafood and its plants traditionally receive only sporadic attention from FDA inspectors.

"The history of government regulation of food safety is one of government watchdogs chasing the horse after it's out of the barn," he said.

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