Seafood with infected or tainted with drugs and antibiotics have made their way into the United States. Only about 2% of imported seafood is inspected, and only 0.1% is tested for banned drug residues, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress.
80% of America’s seafood is imported. So 78% of the seafood is not inspected. The FDA cannot say with certainty how many pass or fail.
People who eat seafood that is raw or undercooked are especially vulnerable to bacteria that may be lurking. Imported seafood was believed to be the culprit in a 2007 outbreak of ciguatera fish poisoning . Ten people were sickened after eating contaminated seafood from two restaurants in Missouri. Ciguatera poisoning happens when you eat a reef fish (any fish living in warm tropical water) that has eaten a certain poisonous food. This poison does not go away when the fish is cooked or frozen.
Scombroid poisoning: A substance called histamine builds up in some fish when they get too warm after they’re caught. Histamine is a chemical that serves as a kind of alarm to let your immune system know that an infection is attacking part of the body. If you eat a fish that was not properly cooled after it was caught, you may react to the histamine that is released into your body.
What are the symptoms?
The first symptoms of ciguatera poisoning include abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms can then progress to headache, muscle aches and skin that is itchy, numb or tingly. You may notice a change in your ability to feel hot or cold temperatures. These symptoms can last 1-2 weeks.
Symptoms of scombroid poisoning will usually develop 20 to 30 minutes after you eat the affected fish. They can include flushing (turning red) of the face, nausea, vomiting, hives and abdominal pain. These symptoms are similar to other allergic reactions. However, getting scombroid poisoning does not mean you are allergic to fish. These symptoms typically last 24 hours or less.
Product standards for fish and seafood are much lower in China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand where most of the fish and seafood come from.
Food safety advocates like Food & Water Watch say consumers are better off avoiding imported seafood altogether and sticking to locally raised fish or fish caught in the wild. To find out where seafood is from, check your packaging for country-of-origin labeling or ask the seafood vendor.
Of course if you are pregnant there are concerns of mercury too. Check out WebMD for more info on that.