broad-based evaluation is necessary to ensure a reasonable understanding of all governance and management programs currently in place, as well as some measure of protection for the U.S. seafood consuming public. This report recognizes that the question of seafood safety is being addressed by a network of governmental and nongovernmental efforts. The committee's evaluation attempts to incorporate as comprehensive an approach as possible in order to develop a realistic characterization of seafood safety.

The organization of this evaluation is designed to reflect as reasonably as possible this complex programmatic effort. The effort addresses both those programs carried out by federal administrative agencies and the responsibilities taken on by various state or local governments and the seafood industry. Further, in recognition of the international and interdependent nature of seafood commerce, efforts related to seafood safety carried out by other countries and by international economic and scientific organizations are also characterized.


A number of federal agencies are involved in regulation of seafood (Martin, 1990). The primary federal agency with responsibility for the assurance of seafood safety is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The agency houses a wide range of programs devoted to the research and management of seafood product safety. The FDA derives its authority over such programs primarily through two statutes: (1) the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA: 21 U.S.C. 301 et seq.), and (2) the Public Health Service Act (PHSA: 42 U.S.C. 262, 294 et seq.). Under the FFDCA, the FDA is assigned responsibility to ensure that seafood shipped or received in interstate commerce is "safe, wholesome, and not misbranded or deceptively packaged" (FDA, 1988d). Under the PHSA, FDA is empowered to control the spread of communicable disease from one state, territory, or possession to another. To carry out these statutory mandates, FDA has developed a series of regulatory and research programs described below.

Regulatory authority for seafood safety is partially shared, within the present federal system, with two other regulatory actors. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is most fundamentally involved in setting and recommending regulatory guidelines for pesticides. The EPA also provides assistance to FDA in identifying the range of residual chemical contaminants that pose a human health risk and are most likely to accumulate in seafood. The National Marine Fisheries Service of the Department of Commerce conducts the Voluntary Seafood Inspection Program. The role and responsibilities of both these agencies are detailed further below. Other federal regulators are also responsible for seafood promotion and quality. However, although programs in the Departments of Agriculture, Interior, and Defense may enhance seafood safety, such efforts should be viewed as ancillary to the larger federal efforts described below.

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