FDA: India Implemented Mandatory Testing for Shrimp


In response to concerns presented by the Southern Shrimp Alliance regarding a significant increase in shipments of shrimp from an Indian exporter currently subject to two separate Import Alerts, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provided additional details regarding the agency’s efforts to address the continuing problem of the use of banned antibiotics in Indian shrimp aquaculture.

The June 15th letter from William Jones, the Acting Deputy Director for Office of Food Safety, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, FDA, explained that the agency’s sampling program found nitrofuran and associated metabolites in 9.1 percent of shrimp and shrimp products from India sampled in 2009.  Following these findings, the letter reports that “in April 2010, the Agency sent a team of aquaculture experts to assess India’s overall control of veterinary drug residues in products intended for the U.S. market.”  As the result of the visit, the FDA “provided several recommendations” intended to “better assure the safety of shrimp being exported to the U.S.”

The letter asserts that India has implemented several of the FDA’s recommendations, “including a mandatory preharvest sample and testing program for unapproved residues for all shrimp exported to the U.S.”  The FDA further reports that in contrast to 2009, the agency’s sampling program detected nitrofurans and associated metabolites in 2.9 percent of shrimp and shrimp products sampled in 2010.  The FDA believes that one reason for the decline is India’s adoption of the preharvest sampling and testing program.

Whether the FDA’s steps will be sufficient to meaningfully address the problem of banned, harmful antibiotics used in Indian shrimp aquaculture remains to be seen.  However, the FDA’s recommendations in favor of the implementation of testing programs are encouraging.  Although it is frequently contended that increased testing is not the solution to the problem of harmful contaminants in farmed seafood, the FDA’s recommendations confirm that increased testing is a vital tool in addressing the problem.  As the FDA’s letter reports, the adoption of a mandatory testing program led to a decline in the agency’s findings of violations with regard to Indian shrimp imports.

SSA applauds the FDA’s efforts to address inadequate control of veterinary drug residues in farmed shrimp imports.  Chemicals like nitrofurans, chloramphenicol, quinolones, fluoroquinolones, and other dangerous substances have no business in aquaculture.  Because the problem is fully and easily preventable, the continued presence of these drugs in farmed shrimp imports is disconcerting.  SSA continues to strongly support increased testing initiatives intended to stop shrimp contaminated with banned, harmful substances from entering the marketplace.

Read FDA announcement: 6-11 FDA Response to Sagar Grandhi Letter

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