Watchdog Encouraged by FDA's Planned Testing

Washington: As part of a conference call with members of the National Fisheries Institute, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discussed plans to ramp up its new DNA fish testing program. Over just the next few months regulators say they will be pulling 100 samples from imports, warehouses, and distribution centers.

This pilot will enable FDA to focus its future efforts, which are expected to include pulling close to 1,000 samples. Because FDA believes much of the species mislabeling happens at the retail level it also has plans to collaborate with the state regulatory agencies as part of the crackdown.

"This is the type of effort we've wanted to see for a long time," says Lisa Weddig, secretary of the Better Seafood Board (BSB.) "When FDA is out there testing and enforcing the law it makes fraud a lot harder to perpetrate. Whether it's on a menu or bill of sale, seafood needs be labeled properly and operations that don't take that seriously should be on notice; a new commitment and a new data base are in the market now."

According to the FDA Office of Regulatory Science nine labs now have the ability to sequence seafood samples and determine if they are labeled correctly.

"Recommitted regulators armed with DNA testing will be able to cut through the finger pointing and buck passing and hopefully have an impact on the type of fraud we've heard so much about in the past few weeks," says Weddig.

All members of the National Fisheries Institute are also members of the Better Seafood Board. The BSB encourages retailers, restaurants and consumers to ask their seafood suppliers if they are members of the BSB and if not, why not?