U.S. Food and Drug Administration

    United States


    March 5, 2024
    1 inquiry
    0 replies

    Email sent to two media contacts at the FDA.

    The email said: "For several months, we have been conducting an investigation of Choice Canning. Choice exports large quantities of shrimp from its facilities in India to major supermarket brands in the U.S. including Walmart, ShopRite, H-E-B, Dollar General and Aldi. Part of our investigation has involved an ongoing conversation with a Choice Canning employee, Joshua Farinella, managing the company’s plant in Amalapuram, Andhra Pradesh. We began talking to Mr. Farinella while he was still on staff with Choice Canning and we have continued the dialogue since he stepped down from his position with the company.

    Through him and other channels, we have collected a variety of materials concerning Choice Canning, particularly regarding the company’s operations in Andhra Pradesh. These materials include: internal emails, WhatsApp messages, voice memos from senior management, security footage, audio recordings of meetings of Choice Canning staff, invoices from employment contractors, documentation produced by auditors for internal and external use, among other items. A review of these materials revealed a pattern of Choice Canning repeatedly and knowingly shipping antibiotic-positive shrimp to the U.S. It also shows myriad efforts by Choice management to conceal the fact that the company does not source its shrimp from BAP-approved farms, but instead buys shrimp from unregistered local suppliers. We understand that Mr. Farinella has filed a whistleblower complaint with U.S. federal authorities.

    We have the following questions for the FDA: 

    1. Our investigation found that a very small portion of imported shrimp is tested by the FDA which experts say is part of the reason that shipments of antibiotic positive seafood like that sent to the U.S. by companies like Choice Canning are not caught. Why does the FDA not stop and inspect a greater portion of seafood as, say, the European Union does?

    2. New regulations adopted by the FDA in November 2022 require seafood companies selling crustaceans to maintain records tracing the product’s movement through each link in the supply chain. We understand that the compliance date is January 20, 2026. What system of supervision is the FDA introducing to ensure compliance post-January 20, 2026? 

    3. Does the FDA have a plan to strengthen its processes for identifying shrimp that do not comply with U.S. regulations regarding the presence of antibiotics? If so, what is that plan of action and what is the timeline for its implementation?

    4. Food safety regulation in the U.S. is spread across over a dozen agencies, including the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The U.S. Government Accountability Office has called for the concentration of federal food safety oversight under a single agency for greater efficacy. Does the FDA have any proposals for improving the current multi-agency approach to food safety oversight in the U.S.?

    Please let us know your answers to these questions by close of business on March 12, 2024. Please also note that we will need for all our interactions to remain on record and in writing."

    Future correspondence will be added here as this conversation continues.