Consumer Reports recently released a startling study that suggests that frozen shrimp may contain deadly bacteria along with traces of antibiotics that are illegal to use in the United States. Researchers found that some of the frozen shrimp samples contained traces of the deadly MRSA bacteria, with 60 percent showing traces of bacteria that can cause diseases in humans. Therefore, the report is warning consumers to be vigilant about the type of shrimp products they consume.
To complete the report, the researchers purchased 342 packages of frozen shrimp, both cooked and uncooked, at popular supermarkets. They then tested for a variety of bacteria and antibiotics. The origin of the product was noted along with the lab results.
Consumer Reports notes that Americans love shrimp, and on average, we consume about four pounds of it per person each year. That makes shrimp more popular than even tuna. However, researchers are worried that shrimp consumption can be unsafe due to shrimp farming practices abroad. It was reported that approximately 94 percent of all frozen shrimp products come from overseas. Though the United States has banned the use of certain antibiotics, other countries have not. Therefore, these illegal antibiotics can sometimes make their way to your table. The research found that 11 percent of the shrimp samples contained traces of illegal antibiotics. All of the products containing the antibiotics had originated in Asia.
The Food and Drug Administration forbids the use of antibiotics in shrimp aquaculture as it can contribute to the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Therefore, it may come as no surprise that deadly pathogens were also found on the shrimp products. Both MRSA and vibrio, a potentially lethal bacteria closely associated with raw oysters, were found on some of the shrimp samples.
Though the case for consuming frozen shrimp seems bleak, the Consumer Reports does give some good insight into what to look for when purchasing shrimp products. First, shrimp that was wild caught was safest with farmed shrimp considerably more “dirty” when it comes to containing bacteria. Wild shrimp originating in the United States was found to be the cleanest. If you only have farmed shrimp options for purchase, the researchers suggest looking for products that are certified antibiotic and drug-free.
“Consumer Reports has evaluated organizations and stores that certify whether farmed shrimp—both domestic and imported—have been raised without drugs and chemicals. We recommend farmed shrimp labeled Naturland, Aquaculture Stewardship Council, or Whole Foods Market Responsibly Farmed. Another common certification is Best Aquaculture Practices, but we found antibiotics on four samples with that label.”
The study also suggests purchasing raw shrimp and cooking it yourself is the safest practice. If you handle the shrimp properly and thoroughly cook the product it will kill the bacteria that may be present.
Did you know that frozen shrimp could contain deadly bacteria or illegal antibiotics? Do you consume frozen shrimp products?
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