Food Regulatory Authorities in the EU, Japan, and the United States Once Again Confirm that India and Vietnam Continue to Use Banned Antibiotics in their Shrimp Aquaculture

As part of its “Know Your Supplier” initiative, the Southern Shrimp Alliance annually updates databases providing detailed information regarding shrimp imports rejected from the European Union, Japan, and the United States due to the presence of banned antibiotics. The databases, made available in Excel format, now include information for calendar year 2023 for the actions taken by enforcement agencies in three of the world’s major shrimp import markets. 

The database of information from Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Imported Foods Inspection Services (IFIS) compiles information regarding shrimp imports rejected because of banned antibiotics between November 2010 and 2023. Last year, IFIS reported refusing twenty-one (21) shipments of shrimp – the most since 2017 – because of the presence of banned antibiotics, with all but one originating either from India (9) or Vietnam (11).

The European Union’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) is a database that compiles notices regarding every alert regarding shrimp imports found to contain banned antibiotics between 2001 and 2023. Last year, RASFF included notices for thirteen (13) shipments of shrimp refused entry into the European Union because of banned antibiotics or fungicides, the most since 2018.  One of the refusals was for Bangladeshi-origin shrimp, while another was for Indonesian-origin shrimp. The remaining eleven were either for shrimp from India (4) or shrimp from Vietnam (7).

The database of U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) entry line refusals compiles information regarding every shrimp entry line refused for reasons related to banned antibiotics between 2002 and 2023. Last year, the FDA refused fifty-one (51) entry lines of shrimp because of antibiotics. A substantial majority of these entry line refusals involved shrimp exported from India (37), with another four entry lines refused of shrimp from each of Vietnam, Thailand, and Ecuador. The remaining two entry lines of shrimp refused for banned antibiotics by the FDA in 2023 were for shrimp exported from China and Indonesia.   

The Southern Shrimp Alliance is providing this updated information in order to enhance the ability of consumers, importers, wholesalers, retailers, and restaurants to evaluate the risk of exposure to contaminated shrimp from various sources. As these data confirm, antibiotic use in shrimp supply chains is overwhelmingly concentrated with two countries, India and Vietnam, that constitute only a small subset of the countries engaged in shrimp aquaculture. 

As the charts below demonstrate, over the last decade, RASFF notifications regarding shrimp contaminated by antibiotics have been dominated by imports sourced from India and Vietnam. Over the same time period, the vast majority of imported shrimp rejections in Japan because of the presence of banned antibiotics have also been of products sourced from India and Vietnam. For the United States, other than the refusals for Malaysian shrimp that was likely transshipped Chinese shrimp, the second and third largest sources of refusals were, again, India and Vietnam.

Once again, in 2023, the reporting of three major seafood importing markets continues to demonstrate that shrimp farmed and exported from India and Vietnam present unique risks of antibiotic contamination.  For its part, the European Union has maintained additional, particularized measures to address the enhanced risk presented by shipments of contaminated Indian shrimp. Nevertheless, even with increased testing and greater scrutiny, the European Union again confirmed in 2023 that it continues to detect banned antibiotics in Indian shrimp.

The updated databases may be accessed here:

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