The Southern Shrimp Alliance today sent a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration alerting the agency to a significant recent increase in the volume of shrimp exported to the United States by an Indian exporter subject to two import alerts.

GVR Exports and Sagar Grandhi – which are alternative names for the same company – are both currently listed on the FDA’s Import Alert (IA) 16-29 for findings of nitrofuran, a banned antibiotic, in the company’s exports of shrimp to the United States.  At the same time, neither GVR Exports nor Sagar Grandhi are excluded from Import Alert (IA) 16-35, an import alert that applies to all Indian exporters of shrimp (resulting from concerns regarding salmonella) unless they are specifically exempted from the alert.

Sagar Grandhi was listed on IA 16-129 beginning in June of 2009 and GVR Exports appears to have been later added in November of 2010.  Publicly available reports indicate that the FDA’s findings of nitrofuran contamination in the company’s shrimp followed detection of the same banned antibiotic in the company’s shrimp by the United Kingdom in December of 2008 and March of 2009.  The Swiss government currently lists Sagar Grandhi on its “Stop & Test” list based on concerns regarding nitrofurans.

These problems appear to have continued.  The FDA’s Operational and Administrative System for Import Support (OASIS) reports that shrimp imports from GVR Exports were refused entry into the United States in May 2010 for nitrofurans and that shrimp imports from Sagar Grandhi were refused entry in March 2011 for both salmonella and the presence of unapproved veterinary drug residues.

Nevertheless, commercially available trade data indicates that shipments from Sagar Grandhi have recently increased substantially and, according to ship manifests, over one million pounds of shrimp was shipped by the company to the U.S. market between August 2010 and January 2011.  This represents a three hundred percent increase in the volume of exports reported for the company between August 2009 and January 2010 and twice the volume of exports reported for the company for the equivalent period the two years before that.

SSA’s letter asked:  If GVR Exports’/Sagar Grandhi’s shrimp exports have been deemed problematic enough to be listed on Import Alert (IA) 16-129 and not exempted from Import Alert (IA) 16-35, what are substantial quantities of shrimp from this company continuing to be shipped to the United States?  SSA’s letter observed that shrimp landed in the Gulf of Mexico has been subject to rigorous testing to ensure consumers of the safety and wholesomeness of the product.  Similar scrutiny does not appear to have been applied to shrimp imports from sources that have repeatedly run afoul of our food safety protections.

Read the full letter: 5-24-11 Letter to FDA on Indian Company

Read FDA response to SSA: 6-11 FDA Response to Sagar Grandhi Letter