Yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported refusing a total of just 55 seafood entry lines in June. This represents, by a significant margin, the lowest monthly total of seafood entry line refusals for any month going back to October 2001, the first month for which data are reported on the FDA’s website. Because the last seafood entry line refusal reported for the month was June 27th, it is possible that this total will be subsequently increased by any additional entry line refusals that took place on June 28th, 29th, and 30th. However, any upward revision is likely to be limited and is unlikely to change the fact that June 2019 represented an extremely aberrational month in terms of the FDA’s regulation of imported seafood.

Nevertheless, the FDA reported that 3 out of the 55 (5.5%) total seafood entry line refusals were of shrimp for reasons related to banned antibiotics.

Through the first half of the year, the FDA has refused a total of 47 entry lines of shrimp for reasons related to veterinary drug residues, compared to 53 all of last year (and 55 in all of 2017). As summarized in the table below, the number of shrimp entry line refusals this year exceeds the annual refusals by the FDA reported between 2002 and 2006:

 

 

The three shrimp entry lines refused in June for veterinary drug residues were from two different exporters in the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela:
Shrimp imports from the United Arab Emirates now account for 14 of the 47 shrimp entry lines refused for reasons related to banned antibiotics this year. Only India, which is responsible for 26 of the remaining 33 shrimp entry lines refused for this reason, accounts for more. Yet, through the first four months of this year, we have only imported 126,245 pounds of frozen, non-breaded shrimp from the United Arab Emirates with a declared commercial value of $762,660. In contrast, the United States has imported 164.5 million pounds of frozen, non-breaded shrimp from India, worth $637.1 million, through the first third of this year. Accordingly, the shrimp entry line refusals for United Arab Emirates appear to account for a substantial portion of our overall shrimp imports from that country.
The entry line refusal of shrimp from Venezuela is the first such refusal since 2017 and only the second such refusal since 2008. Low-priced shrimp imports from Venezuela have been increasing rapidly this year, as the volume of frozen, non-breaded shrimp imports from that country were 43.2 percent higher over the first four months of this year compared with the same time period in 2018, while the overall value of these shrimp imports had only increased by 18.3 percent. In 2019, Venezuela is now the eleventh largest supplier of frozen, non-breaded shrimp to the U.S. market, having already shipped 3.4 million pounds in 2019.