Chinese Shrimp Not Gulf Oysters Should Be FDA's Focus Says Congressman

From the Mobile Press Register via

    U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor criticizes proposed Gulf Coast oyster regulations By Brian Lyman October 31, 2009, 12:31PM
    (Press-Register file photo) U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Bay St. Louis said the FDA has enough to do without further regulating the Gulf Coast oyster catch.

    WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration already has enough on its plate without further regulation of the Gulf Coast oyster industry, Mississippi Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Bay St. Louis, told the agency in a letter released Friday by his office.

    "It does not make sense for the FDA to take on this new commitment," Taylor said in the letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.

    The agency annually inspects only 2 percent of the Chinese factories that export drugs and medical projects to the United States, he said, and should focus on unregulated foreign shrimp if it wants new responsibilities.

    An FDA spokeswoman declined comment Friday, saying the agency would respond directly to Taylor.

    In a new strategy to combat deaths from the bacteria Vibrio vulnificus, which is especially dangerous to people with weakened immune systems, a top FDA adviser recently announced that the agency will require post-production processing of raw Gulf oysters during warm weather months starting in 2011.   The bacteria typically kills 15 people per year.

    While the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference has a campaign to reduce Vibrio-related illnesses by 60 percent, the number of cases did not significantly decline between 2001 and last year, the adviser, Michael Taylor, told the group in an Oct. 17 speech, adding that "the time has come for a new approach."

    Michael Taylor and Gene Taylor are not related.

    Detractors, however, say the proposed processing requirements such as mild heat and low-level gamma radiation could tarnish the taste of a coastal delicacy and put some oystermen out of business.

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