|July 25, 2002
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|WASHINGTON, D.C.—600,000 CASES OF CANNED TUNA FROM AMERICAN SAMOA HELD FOR BIO-TERRORISM INSPECTION|
| Congressman Faleomavaega
announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently
held more than 600,000 cases of canned tuna from American Samoa at the
Port of Los Angeles for bio-terrorism inspection.
“This tuna was packed in American Samoa by both Chicken of the Sea/Samoa Packing and StarKist,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “These cases had a value of about $20 million and were held for almost three weeks, causing great harm on the business front.”
“Chicken of the Sea, for example, was unable to stock store shelves with one of its best-selling items and as you can imagine, customers weren’t very understanding. After failed attempts by the U.S. Tuna Foundation and the canneries to resolve the matter, Dennis Mussell, President and CEO of Chicken of the Sea International/Samoa Packing requested my immediate assistance. I am pleased that I was able to work with the FDA in getting these containers released from the Port of Los Angeles and I want to thank Mr. Dennis Baker of the FDA for his prompt reply to my request for expedited assistance,” Faleomavaega said.
“The FDA continues to have concerns about America’s food supply and I commend the FDA for taking bio-terrorism seriously. Terrorist groups are active in Asia and South America and we cannot be too cautious in protecting our food supply. I am also concerned that because foreign vessels off-load their fish in American Samoa ports, our canneries may continue to have their containers held from time to time for further bio-terrorism inspection. However, it is my intention to work with the FDA and our local canneries to ensure that American Samoa suffers no disruption to its economy as a result of increased security measures,” Faleomavaega said.
“I will also continue to encourage our local canneries to buy less fish from foreign vessels and more from the U.S. tuna boat owners. The U.S. tuna boat owners are fully committed to American Samoa and they are also committed to protecting the interests of the United States. I believe these are reasons enough for our local canneries to strengthen their relationship with the U.S. tuna boat owners and renew their commitment to buy more fish from the U.S.A.”
“At this time, I am pleased that I was able to assist Chicken of the Sea in a matter that could have become a financially devastating situation. I am also pleased that Chicken of the Sea has not faltered in its commitment to American Samoa during the challenging times we have faced with the Andean Trade agreement. I am thankful that this matter with the FDA has been favorably resolved and I am hopeful that we will be able to work out measures to lessen the impact of future bio-terrorism inspections,” Congressman Faleomavaega concluded.
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