Catfish Farmers of America (CFA) has submitted official comments to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding a proposed rule on import tolerances for unapproved drugs. CFA strongly opposes this proposed rule and is deeply concerned that the rule, if implemented, could have adverse impacts on the safety of the U.S. food supply.

“U.S. consumers deserve to know that their fish is safe,” said Butch Wilson, CFA President. “This proposed rule would create a loophole where potentially dangerous and banned drugs, reach American dinner tables. If a drug hasn’t been approved for use here in the United States, it should not be allowed in imports. We strongly urge the (Obama) administration to reconsider this ill-advised rule.”

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FDA’s proposed rule would significantly change regulations regarding tolerances of unapproved drugs found in imported food products. It would allow unapproved drugs contained in imported fish to enter the U.S. market while those same drugs, due to their health dangers, would remain banned here in the U.S. Further, FDA greatly underestimates the number of small businesses that would be adversely impacted by this regulation.

“It is concerning that the administration is moving towards allowing unapproved drugs to be used in imported food while those same drugs are banned for use here in the United States -- it is a double standard,” said Wilson. “FDA hasn’t accounted for the thousands of small farmers who will be impacted when unapproved drugs entering the U.S. market suppress consumer safety and confidence.”

Issued on Jan. 25, the new proposed regulation – “Import Tolerances for Residues of Unapproved New Animal Drugs in Food” -- is the final outstanding action of FDA prior to implementation of the Animal Drug Availability Act of 1996 (ADAA). The law stipulated that the Commissioner of the FDA may establish a tolerance for imported animal drug residues present in food products if the manufacturer has submitted sufficient data showing that the drug is safe.

The proposed regulation establishes methods for submitting, amending or revoking an import tolerance application. CFA’s comments are supported by independent, objective, and scientific sources.