Ban On West Coast Shellfish Has No End In Sight

geoducks saleA China-imposed ban on geoduck and other shellfish from Alaska, Washington and Oregon remain in effect, and Chinese authorities continue to seek more information about U.S. testing protocols for shellfish. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration received a letter from the China equivalent of the FDA.

The NOAA news release says:
The latest letter included approximately 20 separate requests for information from U.S. authorities, including further clarification of testing protocols used in PSP (paralytic shellfish poisoning) and inorganic arsenic tests by the states, a detailed explanation of the National Shellfish Sanitation Program, and detailed descriptions of our existing seafood safety protocols. The letter also included a request for a Chinese audit team to travel to to the U.S. to conduct onsite evaluations of monitoring and testing processes.

Multiple state and federal agencies continue to be actively engaged in a coordinated effort to resolve this issue. The states and federal agencies are working hard to answer China's latest request for information so that U.S. companies can resume shipping these seafood products to China.

Sampling and testing by the Washington State Department of Health concluded that arsenic levels were safe — even according to Chinese standards. The tests did reveal elevated levels of arsenic in the skin of the giant clams, which state health officials said is typically discarded.

But "Chinese consumers eat the geoduck meat and skin and sometimes the digestive gland, too," states the letter signed by Wang Xinwu of China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

"Multiple state and federal agencies continue to be actively engaged in a coordinated effort to resolve this issue," the NOAA statement said. "The states and federal agencies are working hard to answer China's latest request for information so that U.S. companies can resume shipping these seafood products to China." The shellfish ban has been in effect since early December.

February 3, 2014/Source: Nic Scott, KMAS News; Kitsap Sun; NOAA