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Foods -- Seafood

Why isn't seafood inspected? Wouldn't it be safer if it were?

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To say that seafood is not inspected is not entirely correct. Seafood products do not receive the same level of inspection (that is, carcass by carcass) given to other muscle protein foods, but seafood processing plants are inspected by various state and local authorities. Moreover, plants that ship products in interstate commerce are inspected by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These inspections generally focus on the facilities and manufacturing practices to ensure that the products are processed in a sanitary environment and manner.

If seafood were inspected as rigorously as other muscle foods (for example, beef or poultry), it would probably contribute very little, if at all, to the safety of the products. The presence of harmful bacteria, chemical contaminants, or natural toxins could not be detected by visual examination by an on-site examiner. Thus, the benefit of this type of inspection would be minimal.

SOURCE: Donn Ward, Ph.D., Joyce Taylor, and David Green, Ph.D., Department of Food Science, NC State University

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