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Three leading food industry trade associations say an effort to have the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspect and grade seafood would add costly bureaucracy and little else.
In a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees the National Fisheries Institute (NFI), Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the National Restaurant Association (NRA) said language added to the Farm Bill that would include seafood in the list of products covered by the USDAs Federal Meat Inspection Act, poses a serious threat to the food industrys ability to provide safe, fresh and wholesome seafood to American consumers.
Were concerned that USDA lacks the expertise and framework needed for proper seafood inspection, said NFI president John Connelly. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) both have the knowledge and infrastructure already in place to continue doing the job. Increasing the funding for their seafood safety programs would be a better use of tax payers money.
It would be terribly imprudent at this point to move any amount of seafood inspection authority to the USDAs Meat Inspection Act program, according to the letter, which further states that such a dramatic shift in process and policy will be costly, unnecessary and duplicative.
The trade associations also contend, with an eye towards continued belt tightening on Capitol Hill, Now is not the time to create new federal food safety bureaucracy for seafood.