March 21, 2023
Today, the FDA released Activities for the Safety of Imported Seafood (PDF). The report shares the comprehensive approach the FDA is taking to ensure that imported seafood consumed in the U.S. meets food safety requirements and the standards of domestically produced seafood.
Seafood is one of the most highly traded food commodities in the world with 2018 total imports accounting for approximately 94% of seafood sold by volume in the U.S. Seafood contains high quality protein and other essential nutrients and is an important part of a healthy diet. The safety of imported seafood, particularly shrimp, the most consumed type of seafood in the U.S., has garnered the attention of Congress and industry, among other stakeholders.
The FDA Strategy for the Safety of Imported Food (Import Strategy) is the roadmap for this report. It describes a comprehensive approach to imported food safety – guided by four goals:
- Food Offered for Import Meets U.S. Food Safety Requirements
- FDA Border Surveillance Prevents Entry of Unsafe Foods
- Rapid and Effective Response to Unsafe Imported Food
- Effective and Efficient Food Import Program
The Activities for the Safety of Imported Seafood details how established FDA regulation and innovative programs and technology are employed to support each of the four goals as they relate to imported seafood safety. These include proactively engaging and establishing partnerships with FDA regulatory counterparts in countries that export seafood to the United States; exploring the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), specifically Machine Learning (ML), to strengthen predictive analytics; and developing new tools that leverage technology such as geographic information system (GIS) to provide spatial intelligence about potential seafood hazards.
Many of the new import oversight tools described in the report align with activities under the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety initiative that focuses on creating a more digital, traceable and safer food system and builds on the success of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
In November 2022, the FDA released the Activities for the Safety of Imported Produce. Like the seafood report, the document outlines how the agency is working to enhance the safety of imported produce guided by the four goals established in the imported food safety strategy document. Today, the U.S. imports roughly 32% of its fresh vegetables and 55% of its fresh fruit.