Know Your Supplier: Bangladesh

In 2006, Bangladesh exported almost 43 million pounds of shrimp to the United States.  Ever since, the volume of shrimp exported from Bangladesh has fallen every year.  In 2011, we imported less than 10 million pounds of shrimp from Bangladesh and the latest numbers for this year show that volumes have fallen another 40% compared to 2011.

Although there is much less supply of Bangladeshi shrimp in the U.S. market, the question remains as to why any Bangladeshi shrimp is imported into the United States.  Despite substantially reduced volumes, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports refusing 69 entry lines of Bangladeshi shrimp since 2011, 36 of those refusals have taken place this year alone.  The last three refusals reported, all from Gemini Sea Food Ltd., were for the presence of nitrofurans.  Gemini was added to Import Alert 16-129 in May of this year and has, in total, racked up eight refusals for the presence of nitrofuran in its shrimp exports so far in 2012.

Still, the Bangladeshi press has flagged even more reasons to be concerned about the country’s shrimp exports.  According to a story published Sunday in the Daily Star, shrimp intended for export is being adulterated in disturbing ways to artificially add weight:

A group of middlemen injects water, jelly and glue-like substances into shrimps to boost their weight. . . Traders inject green jelly, gum and other substances into the shrimps, said a senior official of the fisheries department in Khulna, asking not to be named.  “We had earlier found barley and rice starch in the bodies of the shrimps,” he said.

That almost makes tripoly sound like a good alternative.

Even if exporters wanted to do something about the practice and eliminate adulterated shrimp from the supply chain, there does not seem to be a way to do it:

“It’s not possible to detect the substances at the time of purchase,” said the official, asking not to be named.

If it is not possible to detect at the time of purchase, how is it possible to detect at the time of importation?


John Williams


Read the Daily Star story “Dark Trade in Shrimps:  Middlemen inject jelly-like substance into shrimps to boost weight; exporters fear business loss”:


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