Imported Shrimp Found to Have Illegal Antibiotics

Banned Antibiotics Found In Imported Shrimp


antibiotic use in seafood/shrimpABC World News is reporting startling news regarding the safety of seafood being imported into the United States.  Illegal antibiotics were found in 30% of imported shrimp that were delivered to grocery markets across the country.

ABC sampled 30 shrimp chosen randomly from across the country.  Three of the 30, 10%, contained traces of antibiotics that have been banned in the U.S..  The report says that 1 billion shrimp are consumed by Americans annually, with 90% of them being imported.  The shrimp are primarily imported from Thailand, Indonesia, Ecuador and China.

Less than 2% of imported shrimp are physically inspected by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and even fewer are tested for residue of banned antibiotic residue, also referred to as carcinogens.

It is hard to determine how widespread illegal antibiotic use is in aquaculture but some experts believe seafood professionals are getting better at managing the antibiotic issue.

“I think the trend is going toward less antibiotics use,” said Jose Villalon last week at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Cooking for Change conference. Villalon is the vice president of the World Wildlife Fund’s U.S. Aquaculture Program, which coordinates the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC).

ASC is working on certification standards for a responsible aquaculture industry.  For example, ASC standards don’t allow antibiotics in shrimp production, but for farmed salmon, certain drugs are allowed but for very limited, uses, and must be administered with veterinary supervision, according to Villalon.

“For the use that is allowed in certain species, I think the critical issue is to make sure they’re not on the World Health Organization’s list of critically important antibiotics,” Villalon told the conference in Monterey. “You really don’t want to allow, even though legally they are allowed, some of those antibiotics on that list. There should be a push to eliminate it, definitely.”

Dr. Daniel Benetti, director of aquaculture at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, also spoke at the Monterey conference and he said, ”There’s a strong push to use probiotics nowadays…the same ones we use in yogurt, that colonize the guts of the organisms and takes over the environment. It’s the best approach and I think that’s the direction the industry is going.”

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