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BATON ROUGE, La. -- At the request of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. marshals seized approximately 1,144 cases of Bernard's brand frozen crabmeat while it was being held for sale at Southern Cold Storage Company in Baton Rouge on July 2, 2004 because it was adulterated with an unapproved food additive, chloramphenicol.
The U.S. marshals seized approximately 304 cases of pasteurized special white crabmeat; 200 cases of pasteurized special claw crabmeat; and 640 cases of pasteurized jumbo lump crabmeat. Imported from China, the frozen crabmeat has an estimated value of $86,944.
In accordance with the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, food products that contain chloramphenicol are adulterated and are not permitted to be sold in or imported into this country.
Chloramphenicol is a broad-spectrum antibiotic drug used to treat life-threatening infections in humans, usually when other alternatives are not available. The use of this antibiotic is limited because of its potentially life-threatening side effect, idiosyncratic aplastic anemia. For the very small number of the population susceptible to this side effect, exposure to chloramphenicol could be serious or life threatening. Because of the current uncertainty regarding the dose-response relationship between chloramphenicol ingestion and aplastic anemia, it is not possible to define a safe level for the presence of this antibiotic in food products.
In June 2002, the FDA announced increased sampling of imported seafood for the presence of chloramphenicol. This action was taken because some states and other countries detected low levels of chloramphenicol in imported shrimp and crayfish.
The agency will continue to detain or seize any food imports that contain chloramphenicol to ensure that this product is not released for human or animal consumption in the United States.