Southern Shrimp Alliance Releases Updated Databases of Refused Shipments of Antibiotic-Contaminated Shrimp Imports in EU, Japan, and U.S. through 2021

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 2021 for the actions taken by enforcement agencies in three of the world’s major shrimp import markets.

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 2021. Last year, RASFF included notices for four (4) shipments of shrimp refused entry into the European Union because of banned antibiotics, three of which were of Indian-origin shrimp, with the remaining shipment originating in Vietnam.

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 2021. Just as in 2020, IFIS reported refusing eleven (11) shipments of shrimp because of the presence of banned antibiotics last year, all originating either from Vietnam (6) or India (5).

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 2021. Last year, the FDA refused seventy-two (72) entry lines of shrimp because of antibiotics, twice as many as had been reported in 2020. Three entry lines of Indian shrimp, attributed to West Coast Frozen Foods Private Limited, which, in January 2021, had been reported as being refused for the presence of nitrofurans have now been removed from the FDA’s reporting database with no explanation provided as to their omission. In contrast to the reporting of Japan and the European Union, the majority of entry line refusals of shrimp for banned antibiotics from the FDA originated in Bangladesh (43). After Bangladesh, the remaining twenty-nine (29) entry line refusals were of shrimp from Vietnam (15), India (6), China (4), Malaysia (3), and Hong Kong (1).

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 are overwhelmingly concentrated in only a small number of countries that engage in shrimp aquaculture. Moreover, even within these countries, only a limited number of shrimp exporters have failed to take action to prevent contaminated shrimp from being marketed.

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 2021, the reporting of three major seafood importing markets continues to demonstrate that shrimp farmed and exported out of 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 continues to report findings of Indian shrimp contaminated by banned antibiotics.

The updated databases may be accessed here:

Information regarding the FDA’s announcement of the refusal of three entry lines of Indian shrimp attributed to West Coast Frozen Foods Private Limited in January 2021 may be found here:

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