October 24, 2016

Import Alert on Shrimp and Prawns from Malaysia

The FDA has announced an import alert on shrimp and prawns from Peninsular Malaysia. Testing has found that one-third of the imports of these types of seafood from that area contain residues of nitrofurans and/or chloramphenicol. Nitrofurans and chloramphenicol are antibiotics, and both are considered carcinogens.

FDAFDA testing last year discovered an increase in shipments of Malaysian shrimp and prawns containing residues of these drugs. The drugs are considered contaminants, therefore the seafood is adulterated and not permitted in the United States marketplace.

FDA has taken steps in the past to prevent companies with “violative shipments” from continuing to import seafood by placing them on existing Import Alerts. That means the companies’ future shipments may be detained without inspection at the port of entry. The importer may submit evidence, such as test results from a lab, showing that the products are free of these residues. The U.S. government is requesting that the Malaysian government investigate the cause of this problem and develop a program of actions to prevent these products from being exported to the United States.

From October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015, FDA tested 138 samples of shrimp and prawns from peninsular Malaysia. Forty-five of those samples, or 32%, contained residues of the antibiotics. That is a significant increase.

Malaysia was one of the top 10 suppliers of shrimp and prawns to the U.S. in 2014, according to the FDA. As the aquaculture industry expands, concerns about using unapproved animal drugs and unsafe chemicals has increased. Using these compounds in the different stages of aquaculture can result in residues in the products, and the consumption of those products can adversely affect human health.

Nitrofurans and chloramphenical are considered carcinogens. In addition, use of antibiotics in animals contribute to the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. FDA has not approved an animal drug application for the use of nitrofurans or chloramphenicol in aquacultured shrimp or prawns, and there is no conditional approval or index listing in effect.

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