FDA Rejects 75 Entry Lines of Antibiotic-Contaminated Shrimp in 2021; Sets Record Low in Total Seafood Entry Line Refusals in December Despite Record Levels of Seafood Imports in 2021

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has published detailed data regarding 36 total seafood entry line refusals in December, of which 1 (2.9%) was of shrimp for reasons related to banned antibiotics.  The FDA also reported an additional 16 seafood entry line refusals in November that were not part of the agency’s reporting last month.  One of these additional 16 reported entry line refusals involved a shipment of shrimp.

In 2021, the FDA has refused a grand total of 75 entry lines of antibiotic-contaminated shrimp, over twice as many entry lines refused in 2020, and the highest number of entry line refusals for these reasons since 2016.

The two shrimp entry lines refused in November and December were for shipments from Hong Kong and Malaysia, as described in more detail below:

  • Lee Fung Marine Products Trading (Hong Kong), a company that is not currently listed on Import Alert 16-124 (“Detention Without Physical Examination of Aquaculture Seafood Products Due to Unapproved Drugs”), Import Alert 16-127 (“Detention Without Physical Examination of Crustaceans Due to Chloramphenicol”), or Import Alert 16-129 (“Detention Without Physical Examination of Seafood Products Due to Nitrofurans”), had one entry line refused for shrimp contaminated with veterinary drug residues and an unsafe additive by the Division of West Coast Imports on November 26, 2021; and
  • Oceanbest (M) Sdn. Bhd. (Malaysia), a company located in peninsular Malaysia that is not on the green list of Import Alert 16-136 (“Detention Without Physical Examination of Aquacultured Shrimp and Prawns from Peninsular Malaysia Due to Presence of Drug Residues from Unapproved Animal Drugs or the Presence of Unsafe Food Additives”), had one entry line refused for shrimp contaminated with veterinary drug residues and an unsafe additive by the Division of West Coast Imports on December 14, 2021.

For December, the FDA reported refusals of seafood entry lines through December 30th.  In refusing just 36 entry lines of seafood for any reason last month, the FDA established an unprecedented low in overall seafood entry line refusals for the month of December:

In the twenty years prior to last month, the FDA averaged over 147 entry lines of seafood in December.  The total number of seafood entry lines refused by the agency last month was less than one-quarter the historic average for December.

The incredible decline in the FDA’s refusal of seafood entry lines comes at a time when the United States is importing seafood at record levels.  Official U.S. data for imports through October 2021 shows that the total value of seafood imported under Chapter 3 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) reached $18.2 billion, compared to $13.7 billion over the same time period in 2020 – an increase of over 32 percent.  The value of seafood imported under Chapter 3 of the HTSUS through the first ten months of 2021 exceeded these imports in all of 2020 ($16.5 billion), 2019 ($17.4 billion), and 2020 ($17.5 billion).

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