BATON ROUGE, La. (KLFY) – In an effort to ensure the safety of shrimp imported to the United States, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said they have signed an agreement on a new foreign shrimp regulatory program.

As the United States is the second largest market for Ecuador, the FDA said that an agreement with Ecuador has been signed to share confidential information including inspection records, draft rulemaking and guidance, and other non-public documents.

“Our Louisiana shrimp processors have lobbied to improve the current inspection system to a more holistic approach where the burden is on the exporting country or company to prove its product is safe before it’s exported to our country. In 2019, as chairman of the National Lieutenant Governors Association, I introduced a resolution calling for seafood inspection fees that would prevent other countries from selling cheaper and less safe seafood. As a result, we have successfully obtained funding for the FDA to adopt such a system.”

Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser

The FDA also stated in a news release that in FY 2021 and FY 2022, Congress provided $6 million to develop and implement options for regulating shrimp imports, including three of the largest exporting countries — India, Ecuador, and Indonesia. The FDA is preparing to evaluate the effectiveness of using a new form of arrangement, a regulatory partnership, in these countries.

“For too long we’ve allowed unimaginable amounts of contaminated shrimp into our country that inevitably ends up being consumed. This program is a step in the right direction. We will continue advocating for increased regulation and inspection of foreign seafood while promoting wild caught shrimp from off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico as the healthiest and tastiest in the world.”

Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser

With the agreement, representatives of the FDA will inspect aquaculture areas regulated by Ecuador. In part, aquaculture production of seafood is successful because of the use of antibiotics and other veterinary drugs to avoid disease in the ponds. The FDA regulates many of those drugs, with several banned for use in shrimp and the current inspection system does not have the capacity to adequately inspect the 1.7 billion pounds of shrimp entering our market each year.