Know Your Supplier (Update): The Broken Record, Banned Antibiotics, and Vietnamese Shrimp

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) recently released information regarding refusals of imported seafood in June 2014.  In total, 126 entry lines of seafood products were refused last month.  Of these, a remarkable 25 were shipments of shrimp refused for contamination with banned veterinary drugs.

The Southern Shrimp Alliance’s informal tracking of data released by the FDA indicates that this is the most amount of shrimp entry lines refused for antibiotic contamination since February 2011.  In 2012, for the entire year, 53 entry lines of shrimp were refused for antibiotic contamination.  Last year, a total of 73 entry lines of shrimp were refused for antibiotic contamination.

In June, the refusals of shrimp for antibiotic contamination were attributed to a variety of foreign sources of supply:  14 entry lines of Vietnamese shrimp were refused (from three different exporters:  Quoc Viet Seaproducts Processing Trading & Imp-Exp Co., Ltd.; Kim Anh Company Ltd. (Factory DL 117); and Hoang Phuong Seafood Factory), 6 entry lines of Indian shrimp were refused (all from RVR Marine Products Ltd.), and 5 entry lines of Malaysian shrimp were refused (all from Ocean Pioneer Food Sdn. Bhd.).

Further, since the last Know Your Supplier, the European Union’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (“RASFF”) has reported another two notifications regarding shrimp imports contaminated with antibiotics.  On June 24, 2014, Denmark reported another border rejection of Vietnamese shrimp for tetracycline and on June 25, 2014, Belgium reported a border rejection of Indian shrimp for nitrofurans.  Japan’s Imported Foods Inspection Services reported the rejection of Vietnamese shrimp from Cantho Import Export Fishery Limited Company (CAFISH Vietnam) for enrofloxacin and reported the rejection of Indian shrimp from Coreline Exports for the detection of furazolidone (nitrofurans).  And Australia’s Department of Agriculture released a May report regarding “Failing Foods” that once again noted that ciprofloxacin and enrofloxacin was detected in Vietnamese shrimp from Quocviet Seaproducts Processing Trading Co. Ltd.

As evidence continues to mount of widespread use of antibiotics in Vietnamese aquaculture, the most recent results from around the world underscore another growing concern:  the prevalence of banned antibiotics in Indian shrimp aquaculture.  In addition to the rejections for nitrofurans and other banned veterinary drugs reported by the European Union, Japan, and the FDA over the last month, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (“CFIA”) has added three Indian seafood exporters to its Mandatory Inspection List (“MIL”) for nitrofurans so far this year:  Nekkanti Sea Foods Limited (Plant #864) (January 22, 2014); M/S Sharat Industries Ltd (EU #933) ((FEI #3003144343) (February 14, 2014); and Naik Frozen Food Pvt. Ltd. (276) (June 11, 2014).

Banned antibiotics have no place in shrimp aquaculture.  They have no place in the shrimp we eat.  But there sure seem to be a lot of folks who do not agree with this simple premise.  It is high time they be asked to explain why they disagree.

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