ABC News: Shrimp farms ‘promote disease’


Steven Hedlund

Published on
May 15, 2012

ABC World News with Diane Sawyer on Friday ran a segment on farmed shrimp after cutting it from the broadcast two nights in a row. The segment shed a negative light on Asia’s farmed shrimp industry over the use of antibiotics and other substances that are prohibited in the United States.

“ABC’s Jim Avila decided to send some overseas shrimp to a laboratory for tests for chemicals and antibiotics,” said Sawyer, the broadcast’s anchor, at the opening of the segment, “and here’s what he found.”

Said Avila, “Most of [the shrimp that Americans consume] is raised in small, crowded pens on shrimp farms in far-off countries like India, Thailand and Vietnam, and the big secret too often in shocking conditions that promote disease and expose them to chemicals.”

ABC News collected 30 shrimp samples from a number of unnamed grocery stores, and it said it found residues of three banned antibiotics — nitrofuranzone, enrofloxacin and chloramphenicol — in three of the samples. The outlet did not reveal the level of residues detected. It also showed video of Asian shrimp farms captured by the University of British Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, which was behind the “Cheap Shrimp, Hidden Costs” investigation that appeared in the Canada’s Globe and Mail in November 2010.

Appearing in the ABC News segment were New Orleans chef Brian Landry of Borgne, Patty Lovera of the environmental NGO Food & Water Watch, Clint Guidry of the Louisiana Shrimp Association and U.S. Food and Drug Administration chief Michael Taylor. The National Fisheries Institute was also interviewed for the story.

“If people are concerned about antibiotic residues, I understand that. But from a safety standpoint scientifically, given the frequency of these residues, it’s not a safety concern,” said Taylor.

Click here to watch the three-minute segment and read the accompanying story. 

Avila is the ABC News reporter behind the “pink slime” beef controversy. 

ABC World News with Diane Sawyer averaged just over 7 million total viewers during the first week of May.

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