Gel-injected shrimp a growing problem in China

Published on
October 7, 2016

Consumer reports of gel-filled shrimp are rising in China, according to a Chinese newspaper report.

The process of injecting gel into shrimp is an illegal method of increasing their weight so they can be sold for a premium. Reports of gel-filled shrimp have been common in China for more than a decade, but are on the rise, the Beijing News reported (via the Epoch Times).

Penaeus and tiger prawns, which are mostly imported from Southeast Asia, are the shrimp most frequently reported to be tainted with gel due to their large size, the article reported.

Shrimp sellers found by the Beijing News reporter to be selling gel-injected shrimp blamed wholesalers for the problem. The article reported the gel is typically made from a mix of collagen, animal skin and bones, but that there is a danger more harmful – and cheaper – materials are being used.

“Even if what was injected was edible gel, which may not itself be harmful, who can guarantee that the process is aseptic? ”said Liu Huiping, a member of the executive council of the Tianjin aquatic products association, told the Beijing News.

Sea horses and sea cucumbers have also found to be injected with gelatin, according to a 2015 report by China’s People Daily.

Little is being done to combat the problem, according to the Beijing News article. Cui Hongtao, the deputy director of administration for industry and commerce in the seaport of Tianjin, told Beijing News that the administration for Industry and Commerce only accepts products for investigation that have already failed the Agricultural Department’s examination.

China is the third largest exporter of seafood to the United States. China exported more than USD 175 million (EUR 157 million) worth of shrimp to the U.S. in 2016.

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