China Issues Crippling American Shellfish Ban; What’s In Your Shellfish?


by Long Island Attorney Paul A. Lauto, Esq./

In an unprecedented move to safeguard the health of its people, China has issued a ban on the import of U.S. west coast shellfish.  The ban was imposed after inspection of recent shipments of geoduck clams from northwest waters, revealed high levels of arsenic and a toxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning.  The ban applies to clams, oysters and other two-shelled bivalves harvested from waters off Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Northern California.e

The geoduck clam is the world’s largest burrowing clam, that can slowly grow up to 10 pounds over as much as 100 years.  Geoduck clams are highly valued in China, where they can sell for retail prices of $100 to $150 per pound.   Most of the U.S. geoduck clam exports come from west coast waters and in 2012 yielded 68 million dollars in business.  Unfortunately, 90% of that business is from exports to China.  When considering all the other shellfish included in the ban, this places the U.S. shellfish industry in serious jeopardy.

Perhaps the real issue here, is why did our state and federal inspection agencies fail and why hasn’t the U.S. government taken any action to safeguard the American people?  It appears the FDA is “asleep at the wheel” once again, as this is not the first time China and a multitude of other countries have blocked the import of certain foods from the United States.  Until all issues are resolved, it may be in your best interest to be very selective as to your future shellfish consumption.

Long Island Lawyer
Paul A. Lauto, Esq.

Paul A. Lauto, Esq.
Paul A. Lauto, Esq. completed his undergraduate studies at SUNY at Stony Brook in 1987, with a major in political science and a double minor in socio-legal studies and moral-legal issues in philosophy. Mr. Lauto received his Juris Doctor from New York Law School in 1990 and was admitted in 1991 to practice in the courts of New York State, as well as the Eastern and Southern Districts of the United States District Court.

Mr. Lauto has primarily focused on personal injury throughout his career and previously worked as in-house counsel to a major insurance company. In 2002 Mr. Lauto established Paul A. Lauto, PLLC, with a primary concentration on personal injury, all types of accident cases, Wills, Trusts and Estates and more. Paul is the sole author of his Scales of Justice blog, which provides updates and information about current legal stories in the news and how they may affect our lives. Mr. Lauto prides himself on providing clients maximum results, with a high level of personal attorney service and attention that is uncommon in the profession. For more information please visit