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FDA imposes complete ban of Korean molluscs in the US market

An evaluation of the KSSP by the US FDA discovered significant inadequacies in the sanitation measures of South Korean shellfish farming that included ineffective management of land-based pollution sources and insufficient controls to prevent the discharge of human fecal waste from affecting fish farms, commercial fishing and aquaculture vessels in or near shellfish growing areas. In addition, the US FDA detected norovirus in shellfish growing areas that were analyzed during the evaluation.

A norovirus is highly contagious and the major cause of foodborne cases of gastroenteritis in the USA. The symptoms of illnesses associated with norovirus include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Persons who contract such an illness commonly experience mild fevers, chills, headaches, muscle aches and an overall sense of fatigue. The symptoms usually occur within 48 hours of exposure to the virus and the illness typically lasts one or two days. Although such an illness is rarely either life-threatening or the cause of long-term effects for healthy adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) it can represent a serious risk to vulnerable groups such as the aged or young children.

The US FDA (http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements...) has recommended that food distributors, retailers and food services remove from sale or service all molluscan shellfish from Korean waters that are fresh, frozen or processed (including canned) as well as any product made from them. It also advised members of the public to check their stores and return any products containing Korean shellfish purchased prior to May 1, 2012. The FDA took pains to point out that suppliers in Korea represent only a tiny fraction of the shellfish imported into the USA and that suppliers of shellfish from other sources are unaffected. However, this ban automatically affects Canada, because the ICSSL is maintained by the US, but also used by Canada to apply import controls for live and raw molluscan bivalve shellfish that are set out in the Fish Inspection Regulations. Thus the delisting of South Korean shippers by the US effectively bans frozen shucked oysters from being imported into Canada. The FDA remarked that despite a lack of foodborne norovirus presently being reported in the US, they do constitute a potentially serious food safety concern.

by S. C.
01 july 2012, World News > America

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