Antibiotics that are illegal in the United States are more than likely in samples of shrimp in your fridge, supermarket, or favorite restaurant.
ABC reports that with Americans eating on average more than 1 billion pounds of shrimp a year, almost 4 lbs per person, it’s strongly becoming the more popular of seafood. Most Americans however don’t know that 90 percent of the shrimp purchased from the grocery store and most restaraunts is farmed in countries like India, Thailand and Vietnam.
Most of this shrimp is raised in small, overcrowded pens in extremely disgusting conditions that promote disease. In order to keep these shrimp from dying in the diseased waters, farmers will routinely pour antibiotics that are not allowed in the United States into the pens, some reaching grocer’s shelves.
New Orleans chef Brian Landry of the seafood restaurant Borgne tells ABC:
“A shrimp that’s farm-raised in a foreign country to produce the yield they need and the quantity they need, they’ll use any means necessary that we don’t use here.”
Patty Lovera of Food and Water Watch describes the farming of shrimp in these countries by saying:
“They’re very, very crowded [pens] and there’s a lot of disease problems so the farms end up using a lot of antibiotics and chemicals to keep the shrimp alive and grow them faster.”
FDA Commission Margaret Hamburg explains that with the massive amounts of shrimp coming into the U.S. only so much of it can be inspected:
“Probably 1 [percent] to 2 percent of the products coming in actually get manually inspected. We can’t screen every container that comes in, open every box, so what we are doing is [trying] to apply the smartest and best strategy to this, which is a risk-analytic approach.”
In a testing of 30 samples of fresh shrimp purchased across the country from various grocery stores, 3 of the samples were found to contain banned antibiotics. Three banned antibiotics were found: enrofloxacin, which is damaging to the immune system; chloramphenicol, found to cause cancer in humans; and nitrofuanzone, a known carcinogen banned nearly 40 years ago.
The detection limit for FDA approved seafood for nitrofurazone is about one part per billion. Dr. Ronald Kendall, professor of environmental toxicology and director of the institute that took the samples explains:
“With imported shrimp from international destinations, if you exceed one part per billion, that shipment will probably be terminated. In the case of the two sample systems that we received from New York when the shrimp averaged 28 and 29 parts per billion, this considerably exceeded the policy.”
Kendall goes on to tell ABC:
“We do much more sampling than that. We have an understanding of these residues that says they are not generally very unusual. We typically do not have illegal residues. When we have them, we take strong action to prevent that product from coming into the country.”
Food and Water Watch urges consumers to ask for wild caught shrimp instead of farm raised shrimp to minimize the chance they could wind up with the potentially harmful antibiotics.
Check out the video link by clicking here.
The video response below is in response to ABC’s report: